United States v. Vaccaro

Officers stopped Vaccaro for running a red light. Vaccaro made a “ferocious move,” leaning “his entire top torso and both arms into the back seat.” Afraid that Vaccaro might be trying to “gain control of something from the back seat,” the officers ordered Vaccaro out of his car, immediately handcuffed Vaccaro and patted him down. Vaccaro expressed frustration, stating that “people are trying to kill me” and that he merely “took [his] coat off” when he pulled over. Vaccaro appeared to be in a “real amped‐up state,” making the officers believe that Vaccaro was under the influence of drugs. There was a GPS monitor on Vaccaro’s ankle. Vaccaro confirmed that he was on supervision for “false imprisonment,” which the officers understood to be a felony. The officers noticed a rifle case in the backseat but did not want to alert an “agitated” Vaccaro that they had seen it. They locked Vaccaro in the backseat of their squad car, removed a coat on top of the rifle case, and found a rifle inside. Vaccaro conditionally pled guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon. The Seventh Circuit upheld the denial of his motion to suppress the gun. Based on Vaccaro’s “furtive movements,” the pat-down was lawful under Terry v. Ohio. The sweep of the car was permissible because Vaccaro was not under arrest and would have been allowed to return to his car; could have gained “immediate control of weapons.” View "United States v. Vaccaro" on Justia Law