Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-563850
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Ruth Fischbein-Cohen
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Timothy J. McGinty Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Mary Weston Assistant County Prosecutor
BEFORE: Jones, P.J., S. Gallagher, J., and EA. Gallagher, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
LARRY A. JONES, SR., P.J.:
(¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Ahmed Saleem, appeals his convictions for improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle and carrying concealed weapons. We affirm.
(¶2} In 2012, Saleem was charged with improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle and carrying concealed weapons, with forfeiture specifications. Saleem filed a motion to suppress, which the trial court denied after a full hearing. Saleem pleaded no contest, and the trial court found him guilty of the charges and ordered him to forfeit two handguns, a shotgun, ammunition, a mask, and a pair of gloves. The trial court found that the offenses were allied offenses of similar import and the state elected to proceed to sentencing on the carrying concealed weapons conviction. The trial court sentenced Saleem to three years of community control sanctions with conditions.
(¶3} The following evidence was adduced at the hearing on the motion to suppress.
(¶ 4} Garfield Heights Police Officers Patrick Hace and Richard Fogle were on duty in their zone car when a car, driven by codefendant Lloyd Spivey, passed by them with a cracked windshield. The officers turned their car around and began to follow Spivey. Spivey turned left onto East 131st Street and then onto Thornhurst Avenue, without using a turn signal. Spivey then quickly turned the car into the driveway of a house.
(¶ 5} The officers pulled into the driveway behind Spivey, activated their lights to effectuate a traffic stop, and exited their zone car. The officers approached the car, one officer on each side of the car. The officers asked for identification of the driver and his four passengers and returned to their zone car to verify the occupants' identities.
(¶ 6} One of the officers noticed that a backseat passenger kept glancing back at the officers and opened the car door, which both officers testified could mean the passenger was going to try and run. So they exited their zone car again and approached the car.
(¶ 7} At that point, dispatch informed the officers that one of the backseat passengers, a juvenile, had provided incorrect information. The officers asked the juvenile to get out of the car. Prior to placing the juvenile in the zone car to attempt to find out his identity, the officers patted him down and found shotgun shells in his pocket.
(¶ 8} Officer Hace testified that
before we put him in the police car to further investigate his identification we patted him down, as we do before we put anybody into the back seat of our patrol car, and we located numerous shotgun shells in the cargo pants pocket.
(¶ 9} Officer Fogle asked Spivey to get out of the car and questioned Spivey about the ammunition found on his passenger. Officer Fogle asked Spivey if there was anything illegal in the car and Spivey replied, "No." Officer Fogle asked Spivey if they could search the car; Spivey consented. At this time, the other passengers, including Saleem, were still sitting in the car.
(¶ 10} Officer Fogle testified that Spivey was "very" cooperative. Prior to the search, the officers removed the occupants from the vehicle. At no time did Saleem object to the search of the car, and he was able to observe the entire search.
(¶ 11} Officer Hace performed the search and located shotgun shells in plain view on the floor in the back seat area. He then located two handguns and a box of ammunition in the unlocked glove box. At that time, Hace contacted the detective bureau, and the search continued in the trunk of the car. In the trunk, officers found a shotgun, mask, clothes, "I.D. that belonged to somebody else, " and gloves.
(¶ 12} On cross-examination, Officer Hace testified that he detained the car and its occupants on a traffic stop. During the initial detention, the officer testified, before they found shotgun shells on the juvenile, the officers did not feel like their safety was threatened. He further testified that he did not initially run the license plate to identify the owner of the car because the officers were pulling the car over for a cracked windshield, "we weren't investigating a stolen car."
(¶ 13} It was not until after the search, according to Hace, that he determined that Saleem owned the vehicle. Spivey received a citation for a safety-belt violation, a ...