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Gun charge dropped against Chicago Bears player

June 18, 1997

CHICAGO (AP) _ A felony gun charge against Chicago Bears player Alonzo Spellman was thrown out Tuesday by a Cook County judge.

Circuit Judge Nicholas Pomaro ruled that Illinois state police had no legal right to search Spellman’s Mercedes Benz when they stopped him for speeding March 9.

Spellman, 25, was charged with unlawful use of a weapon after officers found the loaded .38-caliber automatic concealed in the car.

But Pomaro noted that the gun, which was found in a passenger-side door console, was not accessible to Spellman as he drove. He said Spellman would need access to the gun for the charge to stick.

The only penalty Spellman received was a $90 fine and supervision for going 88 mph in a 55 mph zone.

Spellman, the Bears’ first-round draft pick in 1993, was stopped by state police after Trooper J.A. Denning noticed Spellman’s car speeding past him, heading south on the Tri-State Tollway. The trooper testified that he noticed that the car fit the description given by a toll booth operator who had reported seeing the driver of a Mercedes Benz smoking what appeared to be an illegal drug.

After the traffic stop, Spellman showed the trooper the Indian cigars he had been smoking. Spellman testified in court that he told the officer he could search his car because he did not use drugs and had none in the car.

Police first searched Spellman and a passenger and found nothing illegal. Police asked if there was anything they needed to know before they searched his car, and Spellman told them there was a gun in the passenger-side compartment.