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The People of the State v. Ildifonso Cervantes

March 16, 2011

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ILDIFONSO CERVANTES,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court OF ILLINOIS, of Lake County. No. 08-CF-580 Honorable Charles D. Johnson, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Bowman

JUSTICE BOWMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Schostok and Birkett concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Following a bench trial, defendant, Ildifonso Cervantes, was convicted of resisting a peace officer (720 ILCS 5/31-1(a-7) (West 2008)). The offense was a Class 4 felony because defendant's conduct proximately caused injuries to an officer. Defendant appeals, contending that his act of running from the police was not the proximate cause of the officer's injuries. We affirm.

Defendant was charged with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d) (West 2008)), driving with a revoked license (625 ILCS 5/6-303(d) (West 2008)), resisting a peace officer (720 ILCS 5/31-1(a-7) (West 2008)), and aggravated fleeing and eluding (625 ILCS 5/11-204.1(a)(4) (West 2008)). The trial court conducted a bench trial. We set out only the evidence relating to the charge of resisting a peace officer.

Round Lake Beach police officer Kenneth Lupi testified that, on February 10, 2008, he received a report of a hit-and-run accident. He arrived at the address reported and saw a car that appeared to have been struck by another car. He noticed a blue Cadillac leaving the area. He activated his overhead lights and followed the Cadillac onto Lake Shore Drive. When the Cadillac did not stop, Lupi activated his siren; however, the Cadillac continued north on Lake Shore Drive.

Lupi saw the Cadillac drive through two stop signs without stopping. Eventually, he turned off his lights and siren because the Cadillac began to skid on ice and snow covering the road. After that, the Cadillac began to obey all traffic laws before stopping at a stop sign at 1500 Hainesville Road. The Cadillac soon pulled over in the vicinity of Williams Avenue and the driver got out. The driver, whom Lupi identified as defendant, began running through woods and backyards. Lupi chased defendant with the help of Sergeant Wayne Wilde, who had also arrived on the scene.

The weather was snowy, with temperatures below zero. Both Lupi and Wilde fell several times while chasing defendant. The pair chased defendant for about one minute before defendant fell and Wilde was able to catch up to him and keep him on the ground while a third officer handcuffed him.

Lupi testified that Wilde sustained abrasions to his shin, his little finger, and the side of his head. Lupi stated that Wilde injured his head when he slipped on an icy driveway on Williams Avenue. He injured his shin climbing a fence, and he injured his little finger falling on ice.

Wilde testified that he was behind Lupi's car as Lupi followed the Cadillac. Wilde saw the Cadillac pull off the road. The driver, whom he identified as defendant, fled through a backyard. Wilde exited his squad car and ordered defendant to stop. However, defendant continued running. Wilde chased him for about a minute. During the chase, Wilde sprained the little finger on his left hand and suffered abrasions on the left side of his forehead and his right shin from "hopping a fence."

On cross-examination, Wilde acknowledged that defendant did not push or shove him. Rather, he slipped and fell on an icy driveway.

The court found defendant guilty of felony resisting a peace officer, noting that defendant should have foreseen that, upon running from the police, the officers would follow him. The court sentenced defendant to 18 months' probation including 90 days in the county jail. Defendant timely appeals.

Defendant contends that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant's conduct proximately caused Wilde's injuries. He maintains that he did not punch or kick the officer and that the weather conditions on the date in question were such an extraordinary circumstance that defendant's conduct cannot be deemed the proximate cause of the officer's injuries.

One is guilty of resisting or obstructing a peace officer when he or she "knowingly resists or obstructs the performance by one known to the person to be a peace officer *** of any authorized act within his official capacity." 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a) (West 2008). Moreover, a "person convicted for a violation of this Section whose violation was the proximate cause of an injury to a peace officer *** is guilty of a Class 4 felony." 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a-7) (West 2008). Thus, to ...


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