Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

Some drug cases are messier than others

Sometimes, cops catch the drug operator in the wide open, but in others the scenario can become more complex, especially in this case where cops chase a suspect all the way to his home and break in on the suspicion that drug offences are being committed. Such cases can raise a lot of issues that both cops and prosecutors would rather not confront.

Such was the recent case of an alleged drug dealer whose capture began with a simple stop for not wearing a seatbelt. It began simply enough - the seat-belt violation refused to pull over, running through stop signs and finally jumping out of a still rolling vehicle. At this point the pursuing officer say they saw the suspect clutching a bag filled with green vegetable matter.

Finally, the suspect ran into his home and police followed using the rule of so-called "hot pursuit." Once inside, cops reported the tell-tale smell of burning marijuana. The suspect fled up into the attic of his home and was seen attempting hide the suspicious bag and a firearm under the insulation.

Adding to the flavor of the pursuit, the suspect attempted to tackle one of the pursuing detectives, striking him and grabbing for his service revolver. After tangling with yet another officer, the suspect was finally tased into submission and handcuffed.

In the end nine people found in various parts of the home were arrested -- for resisting an officer or obstruction of justice. Furthermore, officers discovered marijuana still floating in a toilet bowl, digital scales, some $3,000, two stolen guns and bags with marijuana residue. In plain sight, officers saw the marijuana floating in the toilet. That's what made them get a search warrant.

Homeowners in the area are already claiming that police used excessive force and that the main suspect is clean. However, the record shows differently -- police maintain he's a drug dealer well known in the community and to officers. Since 1993, he's been arrested at least seven times for drug, illegal weapon charges and more.

In any event, a good defense counsel will start by looking at the reasonable suspicion for the stop of the suspect in the first place.

WAFB 9, "PD launches internal investigation after alleged drug dealer's arrest" Kiran Chawla, Aug. 10, 2013

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