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United States v. Yancey

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 27, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Paris Yancey, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued May 29, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 17-cr-40067 - Sara Darrow, Chief Judge.

          Before Kanne, Sykes, and Brennan, Circuit Judges.

          Brennan, Circuit Judge.

         This case concerns a traffic stop in Rock Island, Illinois. While two police officers were arresting the driver of a vehicle on an outstanding warrant, they recognized defendant Paris Yancey riding shotgun. Based on their past interactions with Yancey, as well as their familiarity with a contact sheet labeling him as potentially armed, the officers decided to pat him down for weapons. Before they could do so, Yancey made a run for it. The officers tackled him and saw a handgun sticking out of his waistband. Yancey was subsequently convicted of felony possession of a firearm.

         Yancey appeals the admission of the handgun evidence on Fourth Amendment grounds, claiming police lacked justification to keep him from leaving the scene. But under Supreme Court precedent, police officers can detain passengers in a car while a stop is ongoing if they have a lawful reason to seize the driver. It is undisputed that the officers lawfully stopped the car in which Yancey rode as a passenger. Because that stop was still lawfully ongoing when Yancey tried to flee, it was not unreasonable for the officers to detain him, so we affirm his conviction.

         I. Background

         On July 1, 2017, at 1:48 a.m., [1] Rock Island Police Officer Zachary Costas was on patrol when he recognized a car belonging to a woman named Dorothy Davis. Costas also recognized the driver: not Dorothy Davis, but her daughter, Deborah McCorkle. Costas believed McCorkle had an outstanding arrest warrant a few counties over, so he followed the car. When dispatch confirmed the warrant remained outstanding, Costas pulled McCorkle over.

         At 1:50 a.m., Costas approached the vehicle to speak with McCorkle. Yancey sat in the front passenger seat. Costas questioned McCorkle about her name and the warrant for her arrest. During the conversation, Costas referred to Yancey by an incorrect name, and Yancey corrected him, identifying himself as Paris Yancey.

         At this point, Costas recognized Yancey. He recalled two run-ins in recent months during which Yancey was "very confrontational" with police officers, though he was not arrested in either encounter. During one of these encounters, dispatch ran Yancey's name and informed Costas that Yancey was on parole for a weapons offense and known to carry weapons.[2]Costas had also seen a police contact sheet on Yancey, which stated, "[o]fficers should use caution when dealing with ... Paris Yancey as [he] may be armed." The contact sheet had been issued a month earlier and was read to officers at roll call every day.

         At 1:51 a.m., Officer Tony Zier arrived to assist with the stop. Zier immediately recognized Yancey from a burglary investigation he conducted in 2016. Yancey was not a suspect in the burglary, but he had behaved in an "agitated" manner and was upset when police interviewed him. Zier was also familiar with the contact sheet mentioning Yancey.

         Zier walked up to the car and began speaking with Yancey to keep him occupied while Costas conducted the stop. Zier testified he pretended not to recognize Yancey so he would not flee. At 1:53 a.m., Costas asked McCorkle to step out of her car and handcuffed her. Yancey asked Zier if he could leave; Zier told him to wait. At 1:54 a.m., as Costas walked McCorkle toward his squad car, Yancey again asked if he could leave. Zier instructed him to wait "a couple minutes, and we'll get you out of here." To Zier, Yancey seemed nervous about wanting to leave the traffic stop. At this time, due to Yancey's nervousness and his history of carrying weapons, Zier decided he needed to frisk Yancey before letting him leave the traffic stop.

         The next few minutes unfolded as follows:

• At 1:55 a.m., McCorkle was placed in the backseat of Costas's squad car. She told Costas she wanted Yancey to take her car. Costas said that would be fine if Yancey had a valid driver's license. Yancey again asked to leave, and Zier replied he could not leave yet. Costas walked back to the car and saw Yancey, still in the passenger ...

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