A scientific explanation, party fouls, locationally challenged

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Fight For Your Right 

North Knox County has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, its population growth driven by a seemingly inexhaustible supply of Ohio retirees and corporate transplants who took one look at Turkey Creek and said, “No effin’ way am I building my dream McMansion in the middle of that noise.”

One of the inevitable results of unrestrained, high-dollar growth is the profusion of place names like “Green Dale Valley” and “Maple Oak Acorn Way.” Eventually, however, even the fertile imagination of the real estate development community begins to fail, and you end up with some ancient swimming hole surrounded by street names like “Surfside Shores Lane” in an area that hasn’t seen waves break over a reef since tyrannosaurs roamed the land.

Another inevitable consequence of allowing upscale subdivisions to sprout from the earth like toadstools is that the cute-as-buttons spawn of those who reside in them eventually grow into teenagers. Those teenagers, in turn, soon add a potent mix of cars, condoms and keggers to the neighborhood, and before long there’s a profusion of police reports that sound like the script to a lost Beastie Boys video from 1988….

At 2 a.m. on July 11, a pair of officers were dispatched to a very expensive-looking house on Surfside Shores Lane in North Knox County to investigate a report of a “loud party.” As it turned out, the party may or may not have been loud just before the cops arrived, in much the same way that the house was full of inebriated young’uns who might or might not have been fully awake when some sharp-eyed honor student first noticed “the pigs” walking up the driveway.

In any case, the cops managed to enter the house (exactly who let them in wasn’t mentioned in the ensuing report) and soon “discovered multiple intoxicated individuals who were laying in the living room asleep.” The officers then took it upon themselves to wake up “the individuals in order to gather information from them,” a process that apparently went unchallenged until they encountered a 20-year-old woman who was laboring under the illusion that she had the right to pass out in a private residence.

“She was uncooperative and not giving officers her information as asked,” the subsequent incident report said. “The arrestee was yelling at officers and told us ‘Leave me the fuck alone.’ Officers asked the arrestee to stand up and place her hands behind her back. As she refused, officers assisted her off of the chair and attempted to place her hands behind her back. 

“At this time the arrestee pulled away from officers, turning into us. Officers then placed the arrestee on the ground, placing her in handcuffs. The arrestee appeared to be under the influence of alcohol by the odor on her breath and her gestures toward law enforcement.”

If reality were a rap or heavy metal music video, the young lady would undoubtedly have escaped by swinging an electric guitar and vanishing in a cloud of cheap pyrotechnics and power chords. Alternatively, she would have been serenaded by Vince Neil all the way to the patrol car for defending her right to drink all the bottled liver failure she wanted while dry-humping the manager of the local Pizza Barn. 

Alas — reality is considerably less romantic than a rock video, and she was delivered to the Knox County jail on charges of underage consumption and resisting arrest. 

“A scientific explanation”

It was 3 a.m. on July 11, and Officer Aaron Johnson was cruising slowly through the parking lot of the Super 8 Motel on Snyder Road in West Knox County.

He knew exactly what he had to do.

The burnt orange Dodge pickup truck had been idling in the parking space for far too long, engine running and headlights on. When Johnson approached the truck on foot, he could see that the driver was alone in the vehicle and appeared to be slumped behind the wheel, unconscious. It didn’t take long for Johnson to awaken the 37-year-old man from his sweat-drenched slumber and to establish probable cause to search the vehicle, as the guy immediately ‘fessed up to being a pothead who also liked to snort the occasional line of crystal meth.

Johnson and other officers soon found a little under a half-gram each of marijuana and meth, triggering Johnson to relocate the driver to the back of his cruiser while awaiting a paddy wagon. Johnson was careful to note that, before the man was placed inside, his cruiser’s “backseat was clean with no paraphernalia of any kind.”

When the wagon arrived, Johnson had the suspect climb out of the car and was shocked to see that his previously spotless interior was now “completely covered in white powder,” as was his prisoner’s feet.

“There must be a scientific explanation for it,” deadpanned the prisoner when asked where all the white powder had come from. 

Officer Johnson was determined to have the last laugh, however. The half-gram of meth found on the driver during the first sweep was only enough for a misdemeanor possession arrest, but a large enough quantity could trigger an automatic felony charge (presumably this was why the guy’s stash had exploded in a cloud of powdered science). Obviously, the suspect’s parents hadn’t bothered to teach him one of Life’s great truths: never underestimate a man armed with a brush, a dustpan, and plenty of patience.

“I was able to sweep up 6.92 grams of the white powder substance consistent with methamphetamine,” Johnson wrote in his subsequent report. “A large, unknown amount of the white powder substance was embedded in my backseat and floorboard and had to be cleaned out at the Knox County Work Release Center, preventing me from weighing it.”

In the end, however, Johnson was able to recover enough of the powder to accuse the guy of possessing 7.3 grams of suspected meth — and zero understanding of the scientific method.

One toke over the line

There’s no shortage of well-intentioned propaganda reminding us that drunk driving is a bad thing. Decades of tv commercials, billboards, radio spots, cartoons and news stories have accomplished their goal of convincing us that it is selfish, dangerous, illegal, stupid, etc. Only assholes choose to drive drunk. We get it. 

Maybe it’s time, though, to devote a little of that benevolent brainwashing budget to some PSAs on, say, driving while stoned?  Maybe a little effort in that direction would have prevented the following pitiful tale from taking place….

Just before midnight on Saturday, July 10, Officer Kyle Bothof was dispatched to a house near 13200 Buttermilk Road, which is a rural stretch of road near the Loudon County line. The homeowner/complainant had called the E-911 Center because a suspicious vehicle had pulled into his driveway and was now parked there, engine idling and headlights on. 

When Bothof reached the scene (again, this address is way out in rural West Knox County, in a blank spot on the map we’d previously thought was populated entirely by a herd of wild cows and their keeper) he saw a Nissan Versa idling in the driveway, exactly as reported. He also saw an unconscious woman lying on the ground nearby with a key fob clutched in one hand. She woke up readily enough, and Bothof noted that she had “bloodshot-watery eyes with pinpoint pupils,” was unable to stand unsupported and “had an extremely staggered gait,” according to the report.

“I asked how she arrived at this location to which she admitted to driving the vehicle, but did not know exactly where she was and believed she was on Broadway in downtown Knoxville,” Bothof reported.

The woman, age 34, then proceeded to demonstrate her inability to perform a field sobriety test “due to her level of intoxication” and was arrested for DUI, the officer said.

Normally, at this point in a police report on a DUI arrest we’d discover that the woman had tried to drink her own weight in blueberry jello shooters or else had decided that a bottle of Lortab was actually a M&M dispenser. But no — the only hint of an intoxicant on her person was 1.2 grams of marijuana and a pipe with “burnt marijuana residue,” Bothof reported. 

The woman was taken to the county jail, where we can only presume she spent a record amount of commissary funds on sugary snacks prior to her release.

Tales of the Scruffy City is compiled from public records provided on request by the Knoxville Police Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, and other government agencies. We do not identify the citizens who appear inthese reports in order to protect their privacy. Many of those who appear in police reports are guilty of nothing more than having a bad day, while even those who are formally accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty. Tales of the Scruffy City is Copyright 2021 by Hard Knox Wire.

J.J. Stambaugh may be reached at jjstambaugh@hardknoxwire.com 

Published on August 19, 2021