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People v. Hood

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division

December 31, 2019

PATRICK HOOD, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 14 CR 22057 Honorable James M. Obbish, Judge Presiding

          PRESIDING JUSTICE GRIFFIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Pierce concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice



         ¶ 1 Following a bench trial, defendant Patrick Hood was convicted of aggravated unlawful use or possession of a weapon (AUUW) without a valid Firearm Owner's Identification (FOID) Card or concealed carry license (CCL) (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1) (West 2014)) and sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contends the trial court erred by denying his pretrial motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence because police lacked reasonable suspicion to justify a stop pursuant to Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). He also challenges various monetary fines and fees assessed by the court. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court of Cook County and remand as to the fines, fees and costs order.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Defendant was charged with violating the armed habitual criminal statute (count 1), unlawful use or possession of a weapon by a felon (UUWF) (counts 2, 3, 4, and 5), and AUUW (counts 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11), stemming from his December 4, 2014 possession of a handgun while he was seated inside his vehicle. Prior to trial, defendant moved to suppress evidence of the gun, arguing that police lacked probable cause to search his car and seize the gun because he was not violating any laws at the time of the search. He also argued that his "arrest, search, and seizure" were made in violation of his fourth amendment rights.

         ¶ 4 A. Suppression Hearing

         ¶ 5 1. Testimony of Officer Nick Beckman

         ¶ 6 At the suppression hearing, Chicago police officer Nick Beckman testified that, on December 4, 2014, at around 6:30 a.m., he was seated in the front seat of an unmarked police car with "municipal plates" driving westbound in the vicinity of the 3900 block of West Grenshaw Street, a one-way eastbound street. Officer Beckman described the area as "a very high narcotic area." The sun was not out yet, but streetlights were on. Officer Beckman was wearing plain clothes and a vest with his flashlight attached. As the officers were driving, Officer Beckman noticed defendant sitting in the driver's seat of a Pontiac Bonneville, which was parked facing eastbound on Grenshaw. Inside the Bonneville were also a woman, later identified as Quenisha Mason, who was seated in the front passenger seat, and a man, later identified as Michael Neal, who was seated in the rear passenger seat. Officer Beckman could not recall whether the dome light was on in the car. A man, later identified as Marcus Steward, was standing outside of defendant's vehicle holding money. Officer Beckman's partner, Officer Matthew Gallagher, stopped the police car facing defendant's car, approximately 15 to 25 feet away. At that time, Officer Beckman saw Steward look at the police car then quickly place the money he was holding into his pocket. Officer Beckman also saw defendant "making movements towards the bottom of his seat while he was seated." It appeared to Officer Beckman that defendant was retrieving something from the floorboard.

         ¶ 7 Defendant's behavior was "suspicious" to Officer Beckman, so he quickly exited the police car and "jogged" to defendant's car because "there was an officer safety issue at that point." As he approached, Officer Beckman illuminated the driver's side of defendant's car with his flashlight and observed defendant placing a two-toned handgun into a plastic bag. Defendant then tossed the bag to the rear of his car. Upon seeing defendant toss the bag, Officer Beckman quickly opened the driver's side door and "took hold" of defendant. Officer Clarke briefly detained defendant while Officer Gallagher recovered the bag containing the gun from the backseat of the car. The gun, a two-tone Smith and Wesson, loaded with 11 live rounds, was the same gun that Officer Beckman had observed defendant holding in his lap.

         ¶ 8 Officer Beckman acknowledged that he did not witness any illegal transactions occur. He further acknowledged he did not have an arrest warrant or search warrant for defendant or his car. The incident, from the time Officer Gallagher stopped the car until Officer Beckman approached defendant's window, took "seconds."

         ¶ 9 2. Testimony of Marcus Steward

         ¶ 10 Marcus Steward testified that, on the day in question, he was getting off work and had received a call from defendant. They were "meeting up" to discuss what they were going to do that day. He had known defendant for several years from their neighborhood. Defendant was in his car and Steward was standing outside the passenger side. As he was speaking with defendant, the police arrived. The officers drove the wrong way on Grenshaw, a one-way street. Steward knew they were officers when they exited their car. The officers approached the driver's side of defendant's car and pulled defendant and the other occupants out of the car. Steward denied seeing defendant with a gun or throwing anything into the back seat.

         ¶ 11 Steward could not recall whether he had money in his hand. He denied that the police used a flashlight. Although he was standing nearby when the police went into defendant's car, he did not see them remove a gun. He testified he did not pay attention to the police. Steward acknowledged he had a prior conviction for possession of a controlled substance.

         ¶ 12 iii. Ruling on the Motion to Suppress

         ¶ 13 Following arguments, the court denied defendant's motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence. In denying the motion, the court recounted the evidence, noting that the officers were driving the wrong direction on Grenshaw prior to observing defendant's car. The court found Officer Beckman credible and Steward's credibility "strained." The court concluded:

"In any event, the officer that was credible that I believe actually saw the gun in [defendant's] hand as he approached the car, I believe seeing [defendant] attempting to conceal the gun and get rid of it from his own possession as best he could, I believe had probable cause to then recover the gun."

         ¶ 14 Following the denial of his motion to suppress, defendant filed a motion to reconsider, arguing that the mere presence of a gun is not a crime, and therefore, its warrantless seizure was not supported by probable cause. Defendant emphasized that there was no evidence presented regarding whether he had a valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card or concealed carry license at the time of his seizure. The case proceeded to a joint hearing on defendant's motion to reconsider and bench trial.

         ¶ 15 B. Joint Hearing and Bench Trial

         ¶ 16 1. Testimony of Officer Beckman

         ¶ 17 Officer Beckman's testimony at trial was substantially the same as his testimony at the suppression hearing. He added that, on the relevant date, he was working with Chicago police officers Gallagher, Clarke, and Urbanski. All four officers were driving in the same unmarked car. When they stopped in front of defendant's car, defendant was making "quick, furtive movements toward what appeared to be the floorboard area as [if] he was retrieving something." After Officer Beckman approached defendant's side of the car, he saw defendant toss the bag containing the gun. Clarke assisted Officer Beckman in detaining defendant. Officer Beckman then alerted the other officers that "there was a gun thrown." The officers subsequently ordered the other two passengers, Mason and Neal, out of the car. They were briefly detained for investigation. Officer Beckman directed Officer Gallagher to the black plastic bag, which Officer Gallagher recovered from the back seat. The bag contained the gun. Only seconds elapsed between Officer Beckman seeing defendant place the gun in the bag and toss it, and when Officer Gallagher recovered the gun.

         ¶ 18 On cross-examination, Officer Beckman testified that, initially, his attention was caught by Steward holding money and then quickly placing it in his pocket and defendant's furtive movements. Officer Beckman thought defendant was possibly armed based on his movements, although he could not recall whether he noted that in defendant's arrest report. He believed he wrote in the report that there was an officer safety issue "at some point." He acknowledged that he wrote in the report that he approached defendant's car for a field interview. Officer Beckman clarified he approached the car for a field interview because he was in a high narcotics area and deemed the activity he saw to be suspicious.

         ¶ 19 Officer Beckman further acknowledged that, when he initially observed defendant with the gun, he did not know whether defendant had a valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card or concealed carry license. After the gun was recovered, Officer Beckman asked defendant whether he had a concealed carry license, and defendant responded "no." He did not give defendant Miranda warnings prior to asking whether defendant had a concealed carry license. At the time Officer Beckman asked about the concealed carry license, defendant was in custody and not free to leave.

         ¶ 20 2. Testimony of Officer Matthew Gallagher

         ¶ 21 Officer Matthew Gallagher testified that he stopped the squad car and approached the passenger side of defendant's vehicle, while Clarke and Officer Beckman approached the driver's side. At some point, Officer Beckman told Officer Gallagher there was a "143 Adam," which is a police term for a weapons violation. After receiving the code about the gun, Officer Gallagher ordered Neal out of the rear passenger seat. Officer Gallagher subsequently found a black plastic bag containing a Smith and Wesson handgun with 11 live rounds, including a round in the chamber. There were no other items in the back seat of the car. Officer Gallagher kept the gun in his constant care, custody, and control until returning to the police station, where he gave the gun to Clarke to inventory.

         ¶ 22 At the police station, about 6:55 a.m. that day, Officer Gallagher, in the presence of Clark, advised defendant of his Miranda rights. Defendant verbally indicated he understood his rights and agreed to speak with the officers. He told Officer Gallagher that he received the gun from his cousin. Defendant's cousin instructed him to sell the gun for $700, keep $400 for himself, and give $300 back to his cousin. Defendant also stated that he was a rapper and people knew that "he was making bread," which Officer Gallagher understood meant "money."

         ¶ 23 On cross-examination, Officer Gallagher testified he did not remember defendant's car having tinted windows. He did not know whether defendant had a valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card or concealed carry license at the time he retrieved the gun from defendant's car. Officer Gallagher also did not know whether defendant was involved in any criminal activity aside from him having the gun. Officer Gallagher acknowledged that he did not have defendant sign a Miranda advisory form and did not memorialize the interview. Officer Gallagher did not "run" defendant's cousin's name to track down where the gun came from. He did not recall to whom the gun was registered but remembered that it had been stolen from Indiana.

         ¶ 24 The State thereafter introduced into evidence two certified copies of defendant's prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance and manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance. The State also introduced a certified document from the office of the Secretary of State showing the Pontiac Bonneville was registered to defendant. The parties stipulated that defendant did not have a valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card or concealed carry license on December 4, 2014.

         ¶ 25 3. Testimony of Defendant

         ¶ 26 Defendant testified that, on December 4, 2014, he was going to pick up Mason, his girlfriend, to take her to work. Neal was in the rear passenger seat of his car. While they waited outside Mason's house, Steward was "pulling up" two houses down with his girlfriend. Steward stood outside the passenger side of defendant's car and spoke with defendant. Eventually, Mason came outside and sat in the front passenger seat. Shortly thereafter, the police drove up. Prior to their arrival, Steward had started walking away from defendant's car. However, the police stopped their car in the middle of the street in front of Steward and jumped out of their car with their guns drawn. The officers instructed Steward to put his hands in the air.

         ¶ 27 Defendant, Mason, and Neal remained in the car and watched Steward. Eventually, the officers ran to defendant's car with their guns drawn and told defendant to "freeze" and put his hands up. Defendant repeatedly told the officers his hands were up, but the officers could not see him because his windows were tinted. The officers ordered him out of the car, but he refused because he was "doing nothing" and driving on a suspended license. Mason indicated she was scared so defendant told her to exit the car, but he still refused to exit. Once Mason exited, an officer reached in the car and pulled Neal out of the back seat. The officers opened defendant's door and he stepped out. One officer grabbed his wrist and told defendant he was not under arrest, but they wanted to handcuff him for the officers' and his own safety. Defendant refused to be handcuffed and "put up a tussle." Two officers subdued him and handcuffed him.

         ¶ 28 After running defendant's name and identification, the officers asked defendant why he was "acting like an a***" when he was driving on a suspended license. Defendant told them he wanted to remain in his car because it was parked and he knew they would run his name if he exited. Defendant denied possessing or having seen the recovered gun. He also denied referring to money as "bread." He acknowledged that he had three prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance, manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance, and robbery.

         ¶ 29 During closing arguments, defense counsel argued, in relevant part, the gun and defendant's subsequent statement should have been suppressed. Counsel reiterated that the police did not see a crime being committed and therefore lacked probable cause to search defendant's car. Counsel also argued that, even if the gun was in plain view, possession of a gun in Illinois is not a crime and the police did not know whether defendant was legally in possession of the gun until after they removed him from the car and placed him in custody.

         ¶ 30 4. Ruling on Defendant's Motion to Reconsider

         ¶ 31 The court denied defendant's motion to reconsider the denial of his motion to suppress. The court concluded that a "reasonable person might believe the possibility of a narcotics transaction taking place" based on the circumstances: a person, in a high narcotics area, standing next to a car holding money. The court further found the officers "didn't necessarily know" that narcotics sales were taking place, but "it gave rise to some suspicion on their part." Although the officers did not know whether defendant had a valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card or concealed carry license when they observed defendant with a gun, the court found his furtive movements and attempts to conceal the gun were "certainly," "more than enough reasonable grounds for the officers to conduct a further investigation" for safety purposes, which required them to "take control of the individuals and the weapon." The court explained:

"I don't think we've come to a point, nor should we, where an officer's encountering an individual doing what [defendant] was observed doing at 6:30 in the morning in a high crime area that they need to have a chat to determine FOID or CCL status at that point in time prior to making sure that that weapon is not in a position where it could kill one of those ...

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