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Criminal Procedure Keyed to Dressler
Illinois v. Wardlow
Citation:528 U.S. 119, 120 S.Ct. 673, 145 L.Ed.2d 570.
Officers were driving around an area known for heavy narcotics trafficking in order to investigate drug transactions. An officer noticed the defendant standing next to a building holding an opaque bag. The defendant looked in the direction of the officers and fled. The officers turned their car around and watched him as he ran through an alley. They eventually cornered him on the street, exited their vehicle, and stopped the defendant.
The officer immediately conducted a protective pat-down search for weapons because, in his experience, it was common for there to be weapons involved with narcotics transactions. During the frisk, the officer squeezed the bag the defendant was carrying and felt a heavy, hard object similar to the shape of a gun. The officer then opened the bag and discovered a handgun with five rounds of ammunition. The officers arrested the defendant.
The Illinois trial court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress, finding the gun was recovered during a lawful Terry stop, and he was found guilty. The Illinois Appellate Court reversed, holding that the gun should have been suppressed because the officer did not have reasonable suspicion sufficient to justify a Terry stop. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed. The State appealed.
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