Is Police Terry Stop of Someone Who Had a Bulge at His Waistband and Took An Evasive Step In a High-Crime Area Legal ?
Did the Police Officer Possess Sufficent Articulable Facts to Justify a Terry Stop When the Defendant Had a Bulge at His Waistband and Took an Evasive Step in a High-Crime Area ?
In People v. Billingslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d 1026, 1029 (1997), a police officer saw the defendant and two other men talking to the occupants of a parked car in a "high narcotics area." Billingslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d at 1028. the officer asked the defendant to come toward him. Billinqslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d at 1028.
As the defendant approached the officer, the officer saw a "bundle" in the defendant's waist area and that the defendant had his hands in his pocket. Billingslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d at 1028.
At that point, the officer ordered the defendant to keep his hands where the officer could see them. Billingslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d at 1028. After taking a couple of steps in the officer's direction, the defendant took an evasive step away. Billingslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d at 1028.
The officer, who was about five or six feet away, moved to position himself in front of the defendant so that the defendant could not flee. Billingslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d at 1028.
The defendant then removed a handgun from his waistband and threw it into the snow, attempting to conceal it. Billingslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d at 1028.
The trial court denied the defendant's motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence, finding that the officer's actions did not amount to a stop and that he seized the weapon in plain view. Billingslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d at 1028-29.
On appeal, the court in Billingslea found that the officer's actions in stepping to block the defendant while telling him to come over amounted to a show of force before the defendant threw the gun to the ground. Billingslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d at 1030.
However, the court continued its analysis and held that the defendant was not seized for purposes of the fourth amendment because he ignored the show of authority by choosing not to submit to the officer's orders. Billingslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d at 1030, citing California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621, 113 L. Ed. 2d 690, 111 S. Ct. 1547 (1991) (where the Court held that assuming the officer's pursuit of the defendant constituted a show of authority, the defendant was not seized in the absence of either physical touching by the officer or submission to the officer's order).
Instead, the defendant in Billingslea turned away, reached for an object in his waistband, and threw it to the ground. Billingslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d at 1030.
In addition to finding that no seizure occurred because of the lack of submission on the part of the defendant, the court further found that the officer possessed sufficient articulable facts to justify a Terry stop given that it was a high-crime area, the defendant had a bulge at his waistband, and he took an evasive step away from the officer. Billingslea, 292 Ill. App. 3d at 1031.