United States v. Watson, No. 17-1651 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The police received an anonymous 911 call from a 14‐year‐old who borrowed a stranger’s phone and reported seeing “boys” “playing with guns” by a “gray and greenish Charger” in a nearby parking lot. A police officer drove to the lot, blocked a car matching the caller’s description, ordered the car’s occupants to get out of the car, and found that a passenger in the car, Watson, had a gun. He later conditionally pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). The Seventh Circuit vacated the conviction. The police did not have reasonable suspicion to block the car. The anonymous tip did not justify an immediate stop because the caller’s report was not sufficiently reliable. The caller used a borrowed phone, which would make it difficult to find him, and his sighting of guns did not describe a likely emergency or crime—he reported gun possession, which is lawful.