On Aug. 5, Lee County Deputy Dominic Neisler was patrolling State Park Road when he noticed a vehicle that appeared to have a switched tag.
“It was just a routine patrol when the deputy spotted a suspicious vehicle, he ran the tag and the tag came back that is didn’t belong on that vehicle,” said Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson. “The driver exited from the driver’s side of the vehicle and the deputy ordered him to get back inside.”
The driver was Johnny P. Howard, 60, of Tupelo.
According to law enforcement when a driver is pulled over, he should remain in the vehicle, turn off the engine, and place his hands on the steering wheel. If it’s dark outside turn on the interior light so that the officer will be able to see inside your vehicle. In the minds of most officers, any traffic stop carries the potential for a life threatening attack and the driver must avoid misunderstandings.
Do not get out of your car unless the officer asks you to do so. Exiting your vehicle without being asked will be taken as a threat. Do not root around in the car for anything, as this is cause for suspicion and will place undue stress on the officer. Never reach under your seat for anything. The officer may think you are reaching for a weapon and take offensive measures.
According to the crime report filled out by officer Neisler, “As I approached the driver’s side window, I noticed a large knife near the driver’s seat. I also noticed the driver appeared to be reaching towards the back floor board.
“I asked him to exit the vehicle and stand at the rear. I identified him by a Florida ID which he presented.”
The officer asked for permission to search the vehicle and the driver okayed the search.
“That’s when the deputy discovered a small red bag, opened it and found it contained clear plastic pipes and crystal methamphetamine,” Johnson said.
The deputy then placed the driver under arrest and brought him to the Lee County Jail without incident. Howard was charged with possession of methamphetamine.
“We did not actually bring him inside the facility due to him failing certain medical protocols,” Johnson said. “He had symptoms present and we did not want to place him in the general population.”
If you have any additional information about this case, call the Lee County Sheriff’s Department at 662-841-9040.