A Safford police officer conducting a traffic stop last Wednesday netted a passenger with heroin and drug paraphernalia.
The officer knew that the driver of the vehicle, identified as Christina McComies did not have a driver’s license. The officer had conducted a traffic stop with McComies within 2 weeks prior to this incident and warned her of driving without a license. The officer was called away for another call and no further action was taken.
The officer observed McComies driving again on January 30, in the area of 8th Street and 8th Avenue at approximately 5:00 p.m. The officer noted in his report that he has had past dealings with McComies involving drugs and other criminal activity. There were two passengers in the single-cab truck McComies was driving. Just prior to the stop, the officer could see that McComies had spotted him and and turned to the passengers in the vehicle, motioning to them that there was an officer behind them. The passenger nearest the door quickly bent down out of view, then re-appeared and looked back toward the police vehicle behind him.
The officer conducted a traffic stop and McComies got out of her truck quickly and approached the patrol car, presumably in an effort to divert the officer’s attention away from the passengers in her vehicle. McCormies was confrontational, and accused the officer of following her around and pulling her over for no reason. The officer reminded her that he had given her a warning for driving with no license. McCormies said that she was just going to help “Kit Kat’s” sister move a couch and she was in a hurry because she was on her way to work. According to the police report, “Kit Kat” is a street name for a male passenger of McComies truck, identified as Kenneth Strong.
While talking to McComies, Strong was apparently rummaging around in the passenger’s seat and opening the door numerous times. McComies gave the officer permission to search the vehicle, claiming that she had no knowledge of anything illegal. The officer approached the vehicle and asked Strong to exit. The officer noted that a strong odor of marijuana mixed with cologne emanated from the vehicle. The officer asked Strong for permission to search his person. Strong apparently became confrontational and refused to comply with the search request. The officer ordered him to the front of the vehicle.
The officer then searched the other passenger, then asked him to stand at the back of the vehicle. Upon searching the truck, the officer found a backpack on the floor of the vehicle where Strong had been sitting. The backpack contained a multi-colored marijuana pipe with burnt residue in the bowl. It also had a smaller, clear pipe, which had a milky white residue in the stem and a burnt black residue in the bowl. The officer recognized the pipe to be used to ingest methamphetamine.
The officer approached Strong and told him what he had found in the backpack, and asked if he had anything illegal on his person. Strong said that there was not. The officer conducted a pat search at that point. During the search, Strong reached down and removed a small, black zipper case from his rear left pocket and tried to throw it. The officer gained control of Strong’s arms as he actively struggled to throw the pouch. The officer threatened use of force if Strong did not comply. Strong was ultimately subdued and handcuffed. The black, zipper case contained a black substance wrapped in wax paper. The substance smelled of vinegar and was ultimately found to be heroin.
McComies and the other passenger both denied ownership of any of the illegal items found in the truck. McComies said that Strong brought the backpack with him when he got in the vehicle. Strong told the officer that he knew that having the substance on him would make it his. He admitted that he had last used heroin the day prior. Strong said that he had borrowed the backpack from his sister they had just helped move. He stated that his sister has a medical marijuana prescription. He claimed to have no knowledge of either pipe but admitted to smoking marijuana regularly. Strong was apologetic for his earlier actions.
McCormies was cited on scene for driving without a driver’s license. A woman arrived on foot, and after showing that she had a valid driver’s license, was allowed to take the vehicle. McComies and the second passenger were released at the scene. Strong and the recovered evidence were transported to the Safford Police Department where he was given a property sheet referencing the seized items. He was then transported to his residence where he was released.