Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. No. 14 CR
49, Honorable Arthur F. Hill, Jr., Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE MASON delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Hyman and Justice Pierce concurred
in the judgment and opinion.
1 Following a 2014 bench trial, defendant Israel
was convicted of several counts arising out of his possession
of a handgun, all of which merged into his armed habitual
criminal conviction, for which he was sentenced to nine
years' imprisonment. Veal's sole argument on appeal
is that the trial court erroneously denied his pretrial
motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence of the gun.
Finding no error, we affirm.
3 Veal was charged with four counts of unlawful use of a
weapon by a felon, two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a
weapon, and one count of armed habitual criminal after an
officer recovered a gun on Veal's seat during a traffic
stop on December 5, 2013, in Chicago. Prior to trial, Veal
moved to quash his arrest and suppress evidence of the gun.
4 At the suppression hearing and at trial, Officer Wojciech
Kanski testified to the events of that night. Officer Kanski
was assigned to the area north saturation team, which was
dispatched to violent neighborhoods where there were high
incidences of shootings and gang conflicts. Officer Kanski
was on routine patrol with his partner, Officer Pelayo, in
the area of 4258 West Washington Boulevard. Officer Pelayo
pulled up next to a Honda Civic at a red light, at which time
Officer Kanski observed that the rear two passengers of the
car were not wearing seatbelts. After the light changed,
Officer Pelayo executed a traffic stop of the Civic. The
officers pulled to the side of the Civic after it had come to
a stop, and Officer Kanski, who was next to the rear
passenger on the driver's side, exited his vehicle and
approached the Civic. As Officer Kanski was 5 to 10 feet away
from the car, he observed the rear passenger closest to him,
identified in court as Veal, making movements toward his
waist, as though he was trying to cover something.
Specifically, Officer Kanski testified that Veal moved his
hands towards his waist on the right side of his body and
pushed his waist down.
5 Upon observing Veal's movements, Officer Kanski ordered
the car's occupants to raise their hands for reasons of
officer safety. While three of the occupants immediately
complied, Veal did not. Officer Kanski testified that Veal
instead moved his hands up and down. Officer Kanski did not
did not see anything in Veal's hands.
6 Officer Kanski initially ordered the driver out of the car,
whereupon he patted him down, handcuffed him, and had him
stand outside behind the Civic. He then ordered Veal out of the
car and opened the door for him. As Veal exited the car,
Officer Kanski saw a handgun underneath where Veal had been
sitting, and he immediately secured Veal and took possession
of the weapon.
7 The trial court denied the motion to quash and suppress,
finding that the seatbelt violation, coupled with Veal's
furtive movements and his failure to comply with the
officer's request to raise his hands, justified ordering
Veal out of the car.
8 At trial, Officer Kanski was the sole State witness. His
trial testimony echoed his testimony at the suppression
hearing. At the close of the State's evidence, the court
denied Veal's motion for a directed finding. Veal rested
without putting on evidence, and the court found Veal guilty
on all counts, which were merged into the most serious charge
of armed habitual criminal. Following the denial of his
posttrial motion, Veal was sentenced and timely appealed.
10 The sole issue on appeal is the court's ruling on
Veal's motion to quash and suppress. A ruling on a motion
to suppress is subject to a mixed standard of review.
People v. Pitman, 211 Ill.2d 502, 512 (2004). The
trial court's factual findings are entitled to deference,
given that the trial court is in a superior position to weigh
the credibility of witnesses, and we will uphold such
findings unless they are contrary to the manifest weight of
the evidence. Id. However, the ultimate legal
question of suppression is subject to de novo
11 Pursuant to the fourth amendment of the United States
Constitution, people have the right to protection against
unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const., amend. IV;
see also People v. Jones, 215 Ill.2d 261, 268
(2005). Ordinarily, a search and seizure is reasonable under
the fourth amendment if supported by a warrant showing
probable cause. Jones, 215 Ill.2d at 269 (citing
Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 357 (1967)).
But there are several exceptions to the warrant requirement,
including the circumstance where a police officer briefly
stops a person for questioning when the officer reasonably
believes that person has ...