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People v. Davis

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division

September 23, 2019

TERRENCE DAVIS, Defendant-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Nos. 17 CR 1274601 Honorable Domenica Stephenson, Judge, presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant: Kimberly M. Foxx, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg, John E. Nowak, and Joseph Alexander, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

          Attorneys for Appellee: Marc E. Gottreich, of Gottreich Grace & Thompson, of Chicago, for appellee.

          JUSTICE HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Lavin and Justice Pucinski concur in the judgment and opinion.


          HYMAN, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Police officers found a firearm under Terrence Davis's driver's seat while conducting an inventory search incident to impounding Davis's car, and they charged him with several firearm offenses. Davis filed a motion to suppress the firearm. The trial court granted Davis's motion, finding that the officers improperly impounded the car. The State filed a certificate of impairment and appealed, arguing that the trial court erred because state law required the officers to impound Davis's car after he admitted to driving with a revoked license and could not provide proof of insurance. Davis contends that impoundment was improper, as the officers failed to request he show them proof of insurance. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 Background

         ¶ 3 During a routine patrol. Chicago police officer Jamel Pankey saw Terrence Davis waiting to turn left and talking on his cell phone. Pankey followed Davis and pulled up next to him. Pankey warned Davis about talking on his phone while driving. Davis complied, stopped talking on his phone, and drove away.

         ¶ 4 Officer Jordan Smith, Pankey's partner, told Pankey that he recognized Davis from their daily briefing about people of interest in the area. Smith knew Davis's name and date of birth and entered it into the onboard computer system. Smith learned that Davis's driving license had been revoked.

         ¶ 5 About 30 minutes later, both Smith and Pankey stood outside their car. Pankey was talking to a person who flagged them down on an unrelated matter. Smith saw Davis driving slowly on Morgan Street and waved to him to pull over. Davis parked in front of the officers' car and walked up to Smith. Pankey joined the conversation. They told Davis that his license was revoked and he was not permitted to drive. At that time, Davis failed to produce either a valid driver's license or valid insurance card.

         ¶ 6 Chicago police Sergeant Dennis O'Keefe, also on patrol, noticed Smith and Pankey had stopped Davis. O'Keefe went to help Smith and Pankey. Smith told O'Keefe that they had seen Davis driving and knew his driver's license had been revoked. O'Keefe asked Davis if he had a valid license; Davis said he did not. O'Keefe told Smith and Pankey to arrest Davis for driving with a revoked license. The officers handcuffed Davis, put him in the back of a squad car, and took him to the police station.

         ¶ 7 Several unknown men offered to move the car. O'Keefe told them they could not take an uninsured car. One man started walking quickly towards the car, but O'Keefe got to Davis's car first and drove it to the police station. At the station, O'Keefe conducted an inventory search. During the search, O'Keefe recovered a firearm from under the driver's seat.

         ¶ 8 Davis was charged with several firearm offenses and moved to suppress, which the trial court granted, finding insufficient evidence to show that the car was parked illegally. During argument on the State's motion to reconsider, the State pointed the court to the Illinois Vehicle Code and argued, "if you look at transcript pages 36 and 54, that the defendant did not provide them with any valid insurance for the vehicle" requiring that "the vehicle shall be immediately impounded." The trial court denied the motion to reconsider, finding, again, that the car was "legally parked" and that the court "didn't hear any testimony that it was required to be impounded, that was pursuant to any type of statute or ordinance or anything like that." The State timely filed a certificate of impairment.

         ¶ 9 Analysis

         ¶ 10 The State challenges the trial court's ruling on four grounds: (i) the officers had reasonable suspicion to conduct a Terry stop (see Terry v. Ohio,392 U.S. 1 (1968)); (ii) the officers had probable cause to arrest Davis after he admitted to driving with a revoked driver's license; (iii) the officers properly impounded Davis's car for driving with a revoked license and no proof of insurance; and (iv) the inventory search was proper. Davis only responds to the State's third argument, contending that the impoundment violated section 6-303(e) of the ...

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