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The People of the State of Illinois v. James Thompson

March 12, 2012

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JAMES THOMPSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 21st Judicial Circuit, Kankakee County, Illinois, Circuit No. 08-CM-1004 Honorable Clark E. Erickson, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Schmidt

JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Lytton concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Justice McDade specially concurred, with opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Defendant, James Thompson, was charged with one count of resisting a peace officer (720 ILCS 5/31-1(a) (West 2008)). Following a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of the offense and sentenced to a term of conditional discharge. Defendant appeals his conviction, arguing that the evidence at trial was not sufficient to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

¶ 2 FACTS

¶ 3 On July 25, 2008, defendant was charged in a one-count information with resisting a peace officer (720 ILCS 5/31-1 (West 2008)) by knowingly resisting his own arrest. The cause proceeded to a jury trial.

¶ 4 At trial, Officer Russell Belcher testified that he was a police officer employed by the Kankakee County sheriff's department. He was also a deputized United States Marshal assigned to the fugitive task force. On July 24, 2008, Belcher, along with other law enforcement officers, approached defendant's residence in an attempt to find defendant's son, Jovan Thompson. The officers had a warrant for Jovan's arrest, and defendant's residence was listed as his last known address.

¶ 5 When Belcher approached the residence, he verbally announced that he was a

United States Marshal and that he was attempting to locate Jovan. He was wearing a leg holster as well as his United States Marshal tactical vest that had "U.S. Marshall" written on the front and back. The other officers were also in tactical gear that identified them as peace officers. Belcher recognized defendant and attempted to talk with him about his son. Defendant immediately began to walk toward his house, and Belcher followed. When defendant entered his residence, Belcher stepped into the living room, again identified himself as a police officer, and noticed a strong odor of burnt cannabis and many people inside. Soon after he entered, three or four individuals walked out of the room and around the corner where he could not see them. Believing that Jovan was among the group, Belcher attempted to walk around defendant in order to apprehend him. Defendant stepped to the side and thrust his shoulder into Belcher's chest.

¶ 6 Belcher immediately grabbed defendant and advised him that he was under arrest for battery. In order to handcuff him, Belcher placed defendant in an arm bar control hold and brought him to the floor. Defendant continued to struggle and swung his elbow toward Belcher's head a number of times. It took approximately 30 to 45 seconds, and the assistance of another officer, to gain control of defendant after the two went to the ground.

¶ 7 Officer Jason Forbes also testified for the State. He stated that the situation escalated as soon as the officers entered defendant's residence. He noticed a physical struggle between Belcher and defendant. He then heard Belcher inform defendant that he was under arrest. Belcher placed defendant in an arm bar control hold and took him to the ground. A struggle ensued. Although Forbes could not see everything from where he was standing, he could tell that there was constant movement on the ground as Belcher attempted to handcuff defendant.

¶ 8 After the State rested, defendant called a number of witnesses. Lois Williams, defendant's unmarried partner of 22 years and the mother of his children, testified that when Belcher told defendant he was under arrest, defendant put his hands behind his back and was handcuffed, and then the officers "started jumping" on him. Shaquanda Thompson, defendant's daughter, testified that defendant put his hands in the air and then behind his back and was handcuffed. Then, the officers "bum rushed" him and took him to the ground. Andre Beals heard Belcher tell defendant he was under arrest, then witnessed defendant get picked up and pushed toward the wall.

ΒΆ 9 Defendant also testified in his own defense. He stated that he told Belcher that his son did not live with him and that he did not possess a search warrant, so he could not be in his house. Belcher approached defendant and told him that he was under arrest. He then put his hands behind his back, and Belcher cuffed him. As soon as he was cuffed, ...


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