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Traffic stop leads to arrest on charges of possession, obstruction

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

A routine traffic stop Thursday evening led to the arrest of a Peru man for obstruction of justice and possession of methamphetamine.

According to a Peru Police Department probable cause affidavit, Officer Shawn Swinford was traveling southbound on Chili Avenue from Columbia Avenue at approximately 6:44 p.m. when he observed a vehicle with only half of its license plate illuminated heading southbound on Chili from Ninth Street.

Swinford reported the license plate was not clearly visible from a distance of 50 feet, which prompted the officer to activate his emergency lights and conduct a traffic stop near the intersection of Benton and Sixth streets.

When Swinford approached the vehicle to ask for license and registration, he stated to have recognized the passenger to be 49-year-old Peru resident Christopher Warren. After returning to his vehicle, Swinford ran the driver’s information and requested Sergeant Raber and K9 Fargo be en route to his location.

Upon their arrival, they conducted a free air sniff of the vehicle in which the K9 Fargo reportedly showed a change of behavior the officers believed to have indicated a positive sign of illegal contraband.

Following the search, Raber had the driver step out of the vehicle while Swinford went to the passenger side of the vehicle and had Warren step out.

Swinford asked Warren if he had anything on his person he should be aware of, to which Warren replied no.

“In my experience as a police officer, I have had many encounters with Christopher, and in this encounter I could tell Christopher was not talking how he normally does,” Swinford wrote. “It appeared to me that he had something in his mouth.”

Swinford proceeded to ask Warren to open his mouth at which point Warren reportedly refused, clinching his mouth shut, according to the affidavit.

When Swinford asked Warren to open his mouth for a second time, he claimed he observed Warren attempting to swallow something.

“With one hand I applied pressure on Christopher’s trachea, and with the other hand I attempted to pry open Christopher’s mouth,” Swinford wrote.

Swinford gave multiple commands for Warren to open his mouth, but Warren reportedly refused causing a struggle to break out. Eventually, Warren spit out a small plastic baggie which contained residue of a crystal-like substance that later was reported to have field tested positive for methamphetamine.

When Swinford attempted to place Warren’s hands behind his back, Warren reportedly began to struggle again and wouldn’t comply with orders. Swinford was eventually able to obtain control of Warren’s hands and place him under arrest.

While Swinford was conducting a search of Warren’s person, Officer Smith arrived on scene to assist and he and Raber conducted a search of the vehicle.

“Sgt. Raber advised me she located a small cellophane wrapper that contained a green leafy plant like substance under the passenger seat where Christopher was sitting,” Swinford wrote.

Following no other items of police value being located, Swinford stated he wrote the driver of the vehicle two written warnings and let them go. He then transported Warren to Dukes Memorial Hospital for a medical evaluation in regards to him swallowing the alleged methamphetamine.

Once Warren was medically cleared, he was transported to the Miami County Jail where he was booked in on charges for a level 6 felony for possession of methamphetamine, a level 6 felony for obstruction of justice, a Class A misdemeanor for resisting law enforcement and a Class B misdemeanor for possession of marijuana.

Warren is being held at the jail on a $16,000 bond.