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U.S. v. MENDOZA

August 7, 2001

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
V.
OCTAVIO MENDOZA, HUGO GONZALEZ, AND JESUS JIMENEZ, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Norgle, District Judge.

  OPINION AND ORDER

Before the court is Defendants' motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence. For the following reasons, the motion is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

This case involves the events leading up to the arrest of Defendants Gonzalez, Jiminez, and Mendoza for violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1028. The essential facts of this case are undisputed. Defendants and the Government both rely on the police reports tendered by the Government. (See Defs.' Mot. to Quash Arrest and Suppress Evidence, ¶ 9; Govt's Resp. to Defs.' Mot. to Quash Arrest and Suppress Evidence, pp. 4 -14.) Defendants do not submit anything to contradict what the officers claim occurred, as stated in the police reports and affidavit of Officer Bedoy. The court finds that the Government's response to Defendants' motion contains an accurate summation of the history of the arrest, as written by the officers. Therefore, the findings of fact made by the court in this ruling are the facts contained in the affidavit of Officer Bedoy and the reports prepared by the two officers. Because Defendants have not presented definite, specific, detailed and nonconjectural facts in their motion, indicating a disputed material issue of fact, a suppression hearing is not required. United States v. Rodriguez, 69 F.3d 136, 141 (7th Cir. 1995).

The uncontested facts in this case are as follows. Officers Keating and Bedoy, members of the Chicago Police Department Ninth District Tactical Team, were assigned to patrol a designated area on the south side of Chicago for thefts, gang activity, and narcotic violations. (See Chicago Police Report, RD # G-188411.) On April 13, 2001 at approximately 12:00 p.m., while performing their duties, the officers observed the three Defendants standing in close proximity to each other on a public sidewalk, gesturing as if they were passing items by hand. (See Bedoy Affidavit ¶ 3.) The officers observed one of the Defendants nervously looking around the area. Id. The officers interpreted the actions of Defendants as suspicious and indicative of a drug deal. (See id. at ¶ 3, 4.) The officers proceeded toward the Defendants in their unmarked police vehicle. (See id. at ¶ 5.) One of the Defendants, later identified as Mendoza, looked in the direction of the approaching officers and fled the scene, running into a building at 5139 S. Washtenaw. Id. The other two Defendants, Gonzalez and Jiminez, remained on the sidewalk.

Gonzalez and Jiminez further indicated to the officers that they lived at 5139 S. Washtenaw and that there were more pieces of identification in their apartment. (See id. at ¶ 9.) The officers then asked Gonzalez and Jiminez to sign consent to search forms, written in Spanish, to their apartment at 5139 S. Washtenaw. (See id. at ¶ 11.) Gonzalez and Jiminez signed the consent to search forms. Id. The officers proceeded to 5139 S. Washtenaw with Gonzalez in handcuffs. (See id. at ¶ 13.) Jiminez accompanied the officers to the apartment, though not in handcuffs. Id. Based upon the consent to search forms signed by Gonzalez and Jiminez, and the production of the keys to the building by one of Defendants, the officers entered the building without a warrant. Id Upon entering the Defendants' apartment, the officers saw Mendoza lying on the floor of a bedroom in the apartment. (See id. at ¶ 16.) The officers also saw numerous items on the kitchen table that could be used to produce fraudulent identification, along with photos and other related materials. (See id. at ¶ 14.) The officers placed Jiminez and Mendoza under arrest and advised them of their Miranda rights. (See id. at ¶ 17.) At some point, Jiminez and Mendoza admitted to the officers that they made the fake pieces of identification. (See Chicago Police Report, RD # G-188411.)

Defendants contend that the stop, detention and arrest was made without the authority of a valid search or arrest warrant, without specific and articulable facts or probable cause, and without exigent circumstances, and are therefore in violation of the Fourth Amendment. (See Defs.' Mot. to Quash Arrest and Suppress Evidence, ¶ 3.) Defendants seek to have the court quash their arrests and suppress all evidence and statements obtained as a direct or indirect result of the stop, detention and arrest.

II. DISCUSSION

The Fourth Amendment protects "[t]he rights of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const. amend. IV. The court begins with the idea that the Fourth Amendment generally requires a warrant for police officers to arrest persons and conduct searches of homes. See United States v. Basinski, 226 F.3d 829, 833 (7th Cir. 2000). However, not all encounters between the police and citizens implicate the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. United States v. Scheets, 188 F.3d 829, 836 (7th Cir. 1999). The Seventh Circuit has recognized three categories of police-citizen encounters:

The first category is an arrest, for which the Fourth Amendment requires that police have probable cause to believe a person has committed or is committing a crime. The second category is an investigatory stop, which is limited to a brief, non-intrusive detention. This is also a Fourth Amendment "seizure," but the officer need only have specific and articulable facts sufficient to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed or is committing a crime. The third category involves no restraint on the citizen's liberty, and is characterized by an officer seeking the citizen's voluntary cooperation through non-coercive questioning. This is not a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

Id. (citing United States v. Johnson, 910 F.2d 1506, 1508 (7th Cir. 1990)). In determining which of the above categories a specific police-citizen encounter falls under, courts apply an objective standard in ascertaining whether the encounter amounted to a Fourth Amendment seizure. Scheets, 188 F.3d at 836; See United States v. Jerez, 108 F.3d 684, 689 (7th Cir. 1997) ("[A] `seizure' of the person occurs only if a reasonable person in similar circumstances would not have felt `free to leave.'") (citations omitted). As in Scheets, the events in the present case are best viewed as "along a continuum of time." Scheets, 188 F.3d at 836.

A. Initial encounter between Gonzalez, Jiminez, and police officers:

The affidavit of Officer Bedoy states that while on patrol, he and his partner saw the three defendants standing close to one another on the sidewalk. (See Bedoy Affidavit ¶ 3.) Defendants appeared to be passing items by hand, and they looked around the area nervously. Id. As the officers drove toward the three men, one of them looked in the direction of the officers and then ran into a building located at 5139 S. Washtenaw. (See id. at ¶ 5.) The officers exited their car and approached the two men who remained, Gonzalez and Jiminez, to conduct a field interview. (See id. at 16, 7.) The two men were not arrested at this time. Indeed, the movants do not claim that an arrest occurred at this point. The ...


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