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United States v. Edwards

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

May 21, 2018



          Sharon Johnson Coleman Judge

         The defendant, Jackie Edwards, is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Edwards now moves this Court to suppress the evidence that was recovered as a result of a traffic stop and the subsequent search of Edwards' person and car that occurred on November 15, 2017. For the reasons set forth, that motion [34] is denied.


         The following facts are undisputed by the parties unless otherwise noted. On November 3, 2017, DEA agents began the judicially sanctioned interception of communications over a telephone known to be used by Edwards. Between that time and November 15, 2017, DEA agents intercepted over 900 calls and, from those calls, came to believe that Edwards was involved in drug trafficking in the Chicago area. On November 14, 2017, officers intercepted a call which suggested that Edwards was carrying a pistol. Officers also knew, from numerous intercepted calls, that Edwards had been informed that an unknown individual intended to rob him and that Edwards was actively seeking out this individual in order to “get” him.

         During the evening of November 14, 2017, officers intercepted a call indicating that one of Edwards' contacts would be picking up a drug-related payment from Edwards' house the next morning. Chicago-based DEA agents initiated surveillance of Edwards' house early on the morning of November 15th. The individual in question arrived around 10AM, entered the house with a brown bag, and left soon thereafter with a plastic shopping bag and a brown bag. That individual was subsequently pulled over, and found to be in possession of approximately $30, 000 in cash.

         Following an interview with the individual, the DEA task force initiated the process to obtain a search warrant for Edwards' residence. The officers involved assert that the final draft of the warrant was completed before Edwards was stopped, but it is undisputed that the warrant was not signed by a judge until after the stop occurred. Because the DEA believed Edwards was armed, it was decided that if he left his house mobile surveillance would be conducted in order to ensure that he did not return home, potentially armed, during the execution of the search warrant.

         Edwards left his house in a white Land Rover registered in his name and traveled to the vicinity of 69th and Racine Avenue where, unbeknownst to the officers, Edwards owned a business. After Edwards made four consecutive right turns (essentially circling the block around his business), the supervising agent initiated an investigatory stop. The agents activated their lights and sirens, and Edwards pulled over on the right side of the road in front of his business.

         Although the parties disagree about the extent of Edwards' compliance with officer's instructions, it is undisputed that Edwards was forcibly removed from the car and taken to the ground to be handcuffed. During this struggle, Officer Campbell felt something hard and solid in Edward's coat pocket. Edwards was subsequently frisked for weapons, and a loaded pistol was found in his coat pocket. It is undisputed that the officers did not observe Edwards violate any laws, that they did not have a warrant for his arrest, and that they did not have a warrant to search his person or his vehicle.

         Legal Standard

         In Terry v. Ohio, the Supreme Court noted that not all interactions between policemen and citizens require probable cause, and that police officers can stop and detain individuals for certain investigative purposes. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 19 n. 16, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968). Terry stops are permissible when a police officer has a reasonable suspicion, supported by articulable facts, that criminal activity has or is likely to occur. Id. at 21-22. While reasonable suspicion requires less than probable cause, it requires more than a mere hunch. United States v. Bullock, 632 F.3d 1004, 1012 (7th Cir. 2011). The Seventh Circuit has held that the determination of whether an officer has a reasonable suspicion is to be based on “the totality of the circumstances” and “common-sensical judgments and inferences about human behavior.” United States v. Baskin, 401 F.3d 788, 791 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119, 125, 120 S.Ct. 673, 145 L.Ed.2d 570 (2000)); United States v. Ienco, 182 F.3d 517, 523 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing United States v. Quinn, 83 F.3d 917, 921 (7th Cir. 1996)). An officer conducting a Terry stop may pat down a suspect in order to search for weapons, but only if “specific and articulable facts” support a suspicion that the suspect is armed and presents a danger to officers or to others. United States v. Shoals, 478 F.3d 850, 853 (7th Cir. 2007).

         In resolving a motion to suppress evidence, a district court is not required to hold an evidentiary hearing as a matter of course. Instead, a hearing need only be held when the allegations and moving papers are “sufficiently definite, specific, non-conjectural and detailed enough to conclude that a substantial claim is presented and that there are disputed issues of material fact which will affect the outcome of the motion. United States v. Villegas, 388 F.3d 317, 324 (7th Cir. 2004).


         The parties appear to agree that Edwards was pulled over in what amounted to a Terry stop. Edwards does not appear to challenge the pat down that followed the stop, and thus the sole question before this Court is whether the traffic stop here constituted a constitutionally permissible Terry stop.

         Edwards contends that the information available to the officers was insufficient to support a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity had occurred or was likely to occur. Specifically, Edwards asserts that “[a] telephone intercept from the day before the arrest, a criminal conviction from 20 years ago, and a suspicion that Edwards would be travelling with ...

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