At approximately 12:55 a.m., a police officer, in plain clothes and assigned to the street crime unit, was driving southbound in an unmarked police car with his partner when he observed an automobile that double parked the street on the northbound side. He also observed that there were no other similarly double parked cars. The officer saw a man, who was standing on the passenger side of the car by the open rear door, remove something from his waistband, lean over and place it in the rear passenger compartment. The officer could not tell what the object was but, based on his extensive experience as a police officer and member of the street crime unit and the man’s movements, he believed it to be a gun. The officer then made a U-turn and pulled up behind the car, which had two occupants, both women, seated in the front. As the police vehicle came to a stop, the man closed the door and walked away.
The officer exited his car, stopped the criminal man near the rear of the car, identified himself as a police officer and, while the other officer detained the man, approached the car. On the floor of the rear compartment, he observed an empty shoe box and a .9mm semi-automatic handgun, the barrel of which was partially covered by the shoe box. The officer recovered the gun, which had six rounds of ammunition in the magazine and one in the chamber. At that point, the man told the officer that he would take the weight for the gun. After the officer explained to the man that if the gun was not his, he should not take the responsibility for it, but, the man admitted that he owned the gun.
At trial, the man called two witnesses, first, a neighbor and a friend of his family, who testified that the man was on the sidewalk talking to his brother when two men, whom she later learned were police officers, arrived. After speaking to the occupants of the double-parked car and removing them from the vehicle, one of the officers reached into the car and removed something. The two officers then arrested the man. The man’s second witness testified and stated that she was an ice cream vendor and a friend of the man, who had occasionally worked with him on her route. She stated that she was sitting in the driver’s seat of her automobile while waiting for the man, when she saw two plainclothes officers approach him as he stood on the sidewalk talking to his brother, and, apparently believing the man to be a robbery suspect and ask him for identification. She further stated that the officers then searched the front and back of her car and recovered a gun, which the criminal man denied owning. She did not know who owned the gun or how it found its way into her car. She testified that the man had not been in the car before the police approached.