People v. ColyarAnnotate this Case
While patrolling a motel parking area, police approached defendant’s car and saw, in plain view in the center console, a large bullet. They ordered defendant and his passengers out of the car, handcuffed hem, found several more bullets in the car and on defendant’s person, then found a .454 revolver under a floor mat on the front passenger side. The circuit court suppressed all of the evidence, concluding that the challenged police conduct subjected defendant to an unlawful search without probable cause because the bullet did not establish evidence of a crime. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The parties agree that the officers’ initial approach and their questioning of defendant was lawful. The officers were in a vulnerable situation when they observed the bullet. It was dusk and the officers were on foot in a parking lot away from their vehicle; they were outnumbered by defendant and his two passengers, who were in a running car. The officers were forced to make a quick decision based on limited information after seeing the bullet. A reasonably cautious individual in a similar situation could reasonably suspect the presence of a gun, implicating officer safety.