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Appeals Court Frees Felon for Unlawful Chicago Cop Stop

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A majority of judges in the state’s First District Appellate Court relied in part on a federal investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s well-earned reputation for aggressive tactics to reverse the arrest and subsequent conviction of a two-time loser sent to prison on a 2011 felony weapons charge. The majority also cited case law from Massachusetts that limits the weight of eye contact as reasonable suspicion in overturning the Cook County decision to keep Markell Horton in jail for a dozen years. Cops spotted Horton outside a friend’s townhouse in Jackson Park Highlands with what they took to be a gun in his waistband and chased him to a second-floor bedroom, making the arrest after a pistol was found beneath a mattress. The Chicago man, who’d fled when he saw the patrol car, challenged the ruling on Fourth Amendment grounds as cops didn’t possess a warrant to enter the home and contending they lacked evidence to perform a Terry stop.

The judge who convicted Horton in circuit court ruled that the hot pursuit justified entry and that his priors merited the long prison stretch as a habitual offender, with the state also seizing on Horton’s ‘headlong flight’ in attempting to stay the conviction. Referencing a Justice Department report on attitudes to policing among minorities in Chicago, Justice Michael Hyman wrote that while race didn’t play a role – both Horton and arresting officer Roderick Hummons are black – the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s Warren decision notes that African American males are unfairly targeted. He added that possession of a weapon on private property isn’t enough to warrant suspicion that a crime had been committed and that the relative affluence of the Southside neighborhood where the incident took place ruled out the state’s contention under the US Supreme Court’s Wardlow ruling. In 11 pages of dissent, Justice Daniel Pearce said the reversal was racially motivated and that the law permits cops to take flight into account when determining probable cause.