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Felony charges

Near-miss with APD unit leads to arrests


News Staff Writer

Four Atmore men were arrested on felony drug possession charges and a weapon charge after the car in which they were riding just missed a head-on collision with an Atmore Police Department patrol cruiser.
Arrested were Da’Darrius Mortez Harris (27), Jarrett Dajeur McCaster (32), Jamelle Lakell Rivers (28) and Lagarick Raheem Black (25). Each is charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of drug paraphernalia.
McCaster, who was also charged with probation violation, remained in the county jail, without bond, late Monday. The other three made bond and were released.
The incident and arrests happened February 9, around 8:06 p.m., as an APD officer driving south on North Main Street had a close encounter with a green, two-door Ford Mustang.
“The Mustang, which was occupied by four males, made an illegal lane change and almost struck the patrol car,” Police Chief Chuck Brooks reported. “The officer activated his blue lights and pulled them over.”
Police reports show that Harris, who was the driver, had bloodshot eyes and exhibited behavior that convinced the officer he was under the influence of some substance.
“Harris admitted that he had smoked some Spice about a half hour before,” Brooks said. “The officer found a leafy substance that turned out to be Spice that had been spilled on the passenger seat, then found a small amount of Spice in McCaster’s pants pocket.”
Officers also discovered a Taurus 9-mm handgun in the front passenger floorboard. Since none of the suspects claimed ownership, each was charged with carrying a concealed weapon.
More Spice was found under the front passenger seat and in the back seat, where Rivers and Black were riding. Possession of any amount of Spice or other synthetic marijuana is a felony in Alabama.
Solo stop
Another Atmore man was arrested February 11 after an APD patrol officer saw him driving erratically, southbound on Alabama 21.
The policeman conducted a traffic stop near the state highway’s intersection with Sunset Drive and noted that the driver, 41-year-old Steven Dewayne Knowles, was “acting in a strange manner.”
During their investigation, officers discovered a “glass pipe with a white, powdery residue.” The residue tested positive for methamphetamine, and Knowles was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. He remained in the county jail early Tuesday, February 15.
Brooks pointed out that today’s patrol officer is trained to notice the signs of drug use or abuse when a car is pulled over for a moving violation or an equipment violation.
“When officers are out in the community and observe speeding and other traffic infractions, they are going to pull that car over and investigate,” the chief said. “They are taught what to pick up on, such as the occupants’ behavior, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, things like that. They can pretty much tell when a driver is impaired.”
That knowledge helps make streets and roads safer for everyone, he added.
“One traffic crash a year is too many,” he said. “An increase in crashes because of illegal substances could affect innocent persons.”