Officers Putnam and Hammock were patrolling Busbee Parkway Thursday, May 2 at 2:50 p.m. when they noticed a blue Chevrolet Malibu with a missing brake light following another vehicle too closely. As the officers initiated a traffic stop, the Malibu ran a red light before pulling over.
According to Putnam’s report, the driver appeared to be upset and wanted to know what he did to get pulled over. The passenger in the vehicle said he did not have any identification on him so Putnam gave him a notepad and asked him to provide his name and date of birth. According to the report, the passenger “was visibly shaking” and “his breathing was heavy” as he wrote on the notepad.
The officer then “picked up an odor of fresh marijuana” coming from the vehicle. Upon confronting the driver of the vehicle about what he smelled, the driver of the Malibu said there was no marijuana in the vehicle. Putnam explained to the vehicle’s occupants that he intended to search the vehicle to locate the marijuana. The driver became irate and told the officer that he did not have permission to conduct a search. Putnam then explained to the driver that he “did not have a choice in the matter” and asked the two to step out of the car and have a seat on the curb. When asked if there were any weapons in the car, the driver told the officers that were was a loaded Ruger 9mm pistol located in the center console. Officer Putnam retrieved the weapon and ran the serial number through KSU dispatch. KSU advised that the pistol was clear and that the driver had no prior felony convictions.
Upon searching the vehicle the officer located a small green plastic bag full of what appeared to be marijuana located under the passenger seat. As Putnam went to arrest the driver of the vehicle, the suspect turned to his passenger and shouted, “You know that’s yours!”
As the suspect was placed in the back of the patrol car, he told the officer that he did not smoke marijuana and that he had only known the passenger for a couple of days and that he was only giving him a ride.The suspect suggested that the officers question the passenger before deciding who to charge with possession.
Putnam searched the passenger but did not find any contraband. The passenger then told the officer that he had only known the driver a couple of days and was scheduled to appear in court the following morning for possession of marijuana. At this point, the officer noted that the passenger “began visibly shaking throughout his entire body.” The officer explained to the passenger that based on the location of the marijuana, and the fact that there was no other contraband located in the vehicle, he believed the bag belonged to him and not the driver. “It would be impossible and impractical for [the driver] to have placed the baggy of marijuana directly underneath [the passenger],” the arrest report said.
The passenger was then placed under arrest, and the driver was released with a verbal warning for running a red light, having a brake light out and following too closely. The Ruger 9mm was returned to the driver.