Illinois vs Wardlow

1441 Words 6 Pages
In the case of Illinois vs. Wardlow, many factors contributed to Wardlow’s arrest. Starting with the facts of the case, on September 9, 1995 Sam Wardlow fled after seeing police vehicles covering an area in Chicago where it was known to have high drug trafficking. Two police officers spotted Wardlow, Officers Nolan and Officer Harvey, and once Officer Nolan caught up with Mr. Wardlow, Officer Nolan proceeded to conduct a pat-down search of only the outer layer of clothing, or a “Terry Stop.” Officer Nolan was well aware that in this area, there was almost always a weapon on a suspect that was involved with some type of drug transaction. After conducting the frisk, Officer Nolan squeezed the opaque colored bag that Mr. Wardlow was …show more content…
They do have knowledge of general areas where contraband, including weapons, are being carried."(ACLU footnote) Ultimately, the Illinois trial court denied Mr. Wardlow’s petition to suppress the handgun as evidence because the court’s believed that Officer Nolan’s pat down of Mr. Wardlow was in fact a lawful stop and frisk. The trial court believed that Mr. Wardlow’s fleeing gave the officers reasonable suspicion to believe that Mr. Wardlow was engaged in some sort of criminal activity. Mr. Wardlow was found guilty and convicted of the unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. The Illinois intermediate appellate court reversed. The appellate court found "no support" for the suggestion that Mr. Wardlow was in a high crime area. The Court argues that there was no evidence leading them to believe that the police officers were specifically targeting that location where Mr. Wardlow was spotted because that location was known to be a high drug trafficking area. The "officers were simply driving by, on their way to some unidentified location, when they noticed [respondent] standing at 4035 West Van Buren." The court explained that the record "was simply too vague" to support the judgment that respondent was in a place of high narcotics activity, or that his flight "was related to his expectation of police focus on