United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
January 21, 2004.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
The United States of America ("the Government") brought a one-count
indictment against Defendant, James Humphreys. Defendant, a convicted
felon, was indicted for possessing a armthat traveled through interstate
commerce in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Presently before the
Court is Defendant's Motion to Quash Arrest and Suppress Evidence. The
parties submitted briefs; and an evidentiary hearing on the motion was
held, consisting of testimony of the two arresting police officers and
Defendant. For the reasons that follow, that motion is denied.
Police officers may conduct a full search of an arrestee, including the
area within the arrestee's immediate control, to discover weapons and
evidence incident to a legal arrest. United States v. Queen,
847 F.2d 346, 352 (7th Cir. 1988), An arrest effectuated without an arrest
warrant is legal only if the officer has probable cause to believe the
suspect has committed a crime and the suspect is not inside his home. "A
law enforcement officer has probable cause to make an arrest when the
facts and circumstances within the officer's knowledge and of which the
officer has reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient to warrant
a prudent person in
believing the suspect has committed or is committing an offense."
United States v. Sawyer, 224 F.3d 675, 678-79 (7th Cir. 2000)
However, probable cause does not require evidence to convict a suspect,
or even evidence showing it was more likely than not that the suspect
committed the crime. Instead, if the totality of the circumstances,
"viewed in a common sense manner," indicate a probability of criminal
activity by the suspect, probable cause exists. Sawyer, 224 F.3d
On December 11, 2003, Officers Joseph Schuler and Anthony Napolitano of
the Chicago Police Department (the "Department") were on patrol when a
Department dispatch informed them that a report of a disturbance had been
made at 1120 South Cicero Street in Chicago, Illinois. A second
Department dispatch stated that the officers should use caution because
of a possible gun at the scene. When the officers arrived at 1120 So.
Cicero, they saw two men standing together, with a third man standing
about eight feet away. One of these men was the Defendant, who was
holding a black and green bag in his hand.
When they arrived at the scene, the officers told all three men to
place their hands on the hood of the squad car and subjected them to a
pat down search. Defendant placed the bag at his feet. By talking to the
men, the officers learned that the other two men were Shawn Trimble, the
owner of the trucking business located at 1120 South Cicero, and Don
Dorian, one of Trimble's employees.
Trimble told Officer Schuler that Defendant had been employed as one of
his truck drivers and that Defendant was supposed to return one of his
company's trucks by December 10, 2002, but had failed to do as
instructed. Trimble also stated that the vehicle was
reported stolen and that Defendant stole the vehicle. Trimble had
an "incident notice" form in his hand, stating that the truck was stolen.
An incident notice is given to a person filing a complaint with the
Department as a form of a receipt. The truck in question was parked about
forty feet away from where the officers, Defendant, Trimble, and Schuler
Officer Schuler then informed Officer Napolitano to place Defendant
under arrest. At or around this time, Dorian informed Officer Schuler
that Defendant had a gun. After Officer Napolitano took Defendant into
custody, the officers radioed the license plate number of the truck into
Operations Control and confirmed that the truck was indeed reported
The officers then searched the bag, which was originally placed at the
feet of Defendant, on the hood of the squad car. Inside the bag, the
officers found the firearm that is the subject of this prosecution.
Neither Trimble nor Dorian stated that they owned the bag.
The officers took Defendant to the station, where he was Mirandized and
questioned. Defendant acknowledged that he understood his rights and did
not ask for an attorney. In response to questioning, Defendant stated
that he had bought the gun on Chicago Avenue for about $75 from a man
named "Pops." No officer questioned Defendant until he arrived at the
station and was informed of his rights.
A police officer may arrest a suspect for a misdemeanor offense which
did not occur in the officer's presence so long as: (1) probable cause
exists for the arrest and (2) state law authorizes the arresting officer
to effectuate an arrest for a particular offense. Woods v. City of
Chicago, 234 F.3d 979, 995-96 (7th Cir. 2000) ("Woods").
The warrentless arrest of the
Defendant, for a misdemeanor, was authorized by Illinois law.
Woods, 234 F.3d at 996; see also 725 ILCS §
Here, the officers had probable cause to arrest Defendant. The officers
received a dispatch of a disturbance and another dispatch indicating that
a gun was at the scene. When the officers arrived at the scene and took
control of the situation, Trimble told the officers that Defendant took
the truck for work; but it was not returned, as instructed, on the
previous day. Trimble also stated that the vehicle was reported stolen
and that Defendant stole the vehicle. This fact was confirmed by the
officers via police radio.
The officers also had sufficient information to believe that Trimble
was credible. The officers learned that Trimble was the owner of the
trucking business located at the scene of the arrest. In addition,
Trimble had an incident notice in his hand that confirmed his truck was
It is not material that the officers may have thought they were
arresting Defendant for theft of a vehicle instead of the criminal
trespass to a vehicle; "an arrest may satisfy the Fourth Amendment if
there was probable cause to arrest the suspect for the precise offense
the officer cited or, lacking that, a `closely related charge.'"
United States v. Reed, 349 F.3d 457, 462 (7th Cir. 2003)
("Reed"). The criminal trespass to a vehicle charge is based on
the same set of facts as a theft charge, and a "reasonable police officer
acting in good faith" would be able to recommend the trespass charge at
the time of the arrest. See Reed, 349 F.3d at 463. Therefore,
the officers had probable cause to effectuate the arrest of Defendant for
criminal trespass to a vehicle, pursuant to 720 ILCS § 5/21-2.
After the arrest, and based on the totality of the circumstances
discussed above, the search of Defendant's black and green bag was
reasonable. Containers may be searched during a search incident to a
lawful arrest. See, e.g., United States v. Richardson,
121 F.3d 1051, 1056 (7th Cir. 1997). The bag, which was originally in
Defendant's hand and later placed by his feet, was within the area of
immediate control of Defendant. The bag was searched after the officers
verified the stolen truck's license plates, shortly after Defendant was
placed into custody. Defendant presents no arguments to the contrary.
Therefore, the bag was properly searched as a search incident to a
Defendant also contends that he was not properly warned of his
constitutional rights and that he was coerced into giving his statement.
However, police officers, Officers Napolitano and Officer Schuler,
testified otherwise. Their testimony was credible and un-impeached.
Accordingly, Defendant was properly advised of his rights; and his
statement was not the product of coercion or duress.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant's Motion to Suppress is denied.
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