People v Colyar
2:03 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Police Searches with Little Evidence

The Illinois Supreme Court is considering whether police are justified in searching a car when the only evidence of wrongdoing they see is a single bullet.

In a case argued September 10, prosecutors asked the court to reinstate the charges against Michael Colyar.

Police say they saw what looked like a single rifle bullet in Colyar's car, which justified handcuffing him and doing a pat down. That led to finding more bullets and eventually a large-caliber handgun.

Colyar was accused of having a gun while being a convicted felon. But his lawyer, Algis Baliunas, argued police were not justified in their search.

"There was no leaning, bending, anything that would give rise to suspicion of any criminal activity," Baliunas said. "As I indicate in my brief, these people could have been attending an NRA convention."

Lower courts agreed with that idea and suppressed evidence obtained during the search.

But prosecutors contend it's well-established that police can search people they talk to in order to protect themselves from attack.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio