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United States v. Thompson

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

November 22, 2016

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Edward Thompson, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued September 22, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 13 CR 616 - Sara L. Ellis, Judge.

          Before Bauer, Posner, and Manion, Circuit Judges.

          Bauer, Circuit Judge.

         Defendant-appellant, Edward Thompson, was indicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). He filed a motion to suppress the cocaine that was seized after he gave his consent for law enforcement to search his apartment. He argued that a series of Fourth Amendment violations led to the discovery of the contraband and that his consent was not voluntary. The district court denied Thompson's motion. We affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The district court held a suppression hearing, during which it heard testimony from six witnesses. Thompson's account of the events differed in various respects from that of the law enforcement officers involved. In his written opinion denying Thompson's motion, Judge Shadur did not set forth all of his factual findings in great detail; he did however, make clear that his analysis was based on his determinations that "Thompson's version of the events is not at all believable" and that there is "no reason to credit" his testimony. The following is a synopsis of the relevant facts based on those determinations.

         On March 6, 2013, a joint task force of the Drug Enforcement Agency and Chicago Police Department was conducting surveillance on the residence of Armando Soto in Cicero, Illinois, as part of an ongoing investigation into a drug trafficking organization. The agents (for the sake of ease, we refer to all law enforcement officials involved as "agents") received information that a man named Marvin Bausley would be arriving at Soto's house to pick up some or all of ten kilograms of cocaine. Shortly before noon, agents observed Bausley drive into the alley behind Soto's house and enter the garage. After approximately ten minutes, Bausley left the garage and, with agents following, drove to an apartment building in Chicago, Illinois.

         Bausley parked on the street outside the building, and a man, later identified as Thompson, came out of the building wearing a backpack and entered Bausley's car. Bausley drove once around the block and again stopped outside the apartment building, at which time Thompson exited the car and reentered the building. The agents who saw Thompson go into the building communicated this to Special Agent David Reynolds, who was on the scene, but could not see Thompson. Agent Reynolds quickly entered the apartment building, but saw no one in the lobby. He recalled that an apartment at this address had been of interest in their ongoing investigation; he believed the relevant apartment number was 901. He saw that the elevator door was open so he rode it to the ninth floor.

         When Agent Reynolds arrived on the ninth floor, he saw Thompson and a woman waiting for the elevator. Agent Reynolds had not seen Thompson earlier and did not recognize him as the man that had been in Bausley's car.

         Agent Reynolds exited the elevator, and Thompson and the woman entered. As he looked around the ninth floor common area, other agents notified Agent Reynolds that the man who was in Bausley's car was now in the lobby. Thompson did not have the backpack he was wearing earlier. Agent Reynolds returned to the lobby, approached Thompson, and asked him if he lived in the building. Thompson said he did not and that he was only there to visit a friend on the fourth floor. Agent Reynolds then asked if Thompson had just been on the ninth floor, and again, Thompson said no.

         Agent Reynolds told Thompson that he was not under arrest and that he was not required to speak to the agents. Agent Reynolds conducted a patdown to ensure that Thompson had no weapons. He found no weapons, but he retrieved Thompson's key ring. Agent Reynolds testified that he could not recall whether the keys were in Thompson's pocket or in his hand. The key ring held Thompson's apartment keys, as well as an electronic fob that was required for access to the building's elevators. Again, Agent Reynolds asked whether Thompson had just been on the ninth floor and whether Thompson lived in the building. Thompson again answered "no" to both questions.

         At this point, Agent Reynolds asked Thompson if he would speak to the agents on the ninth floor, and Thompson agreed. Using the fob on the key ring, Agent Reynolds accessed the elevator, and Thompson and the agents went to the ninth floor. Thompson did not ask for his keys back at any point, and Agent Reynolds testified that Thompson was not handcuffed.

         Because Agent Reynolds believed that unit 901 was relevant to their investigation, the agents knocked on that door with guns drawn. The resident of that unit answered and agents ordered him to get on the floor, while they quickly swept his apartment. After approximately a ...

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