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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Dunnellon man allegedly tosses marijuana out of truck while fleeing from deputy

A 43-year-old Dunnellon man accused of fleeing from a traffic stop is facing additional drug-related charges after a Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy allegedly saw him toss marijuana out of his pickup truck’s window during the pursuit.

On Monday, July 1, an MCSO deputy was traveling in the area of NW 28th Place and NW 100th Avenue in Marion County when a Chevrolet pickup truck was observed traveling approximately 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, according to the arrest report.

The deputy noted in the report that as the patrol vehicle caught up to the pickup truck, the “odor of unburnt marijuana” wafted into the vehicle through the air conditioning vents. Moments later, the deputy activated the patrol vehicle’s emergency lights and attempted to conduct a traffic stop near the 10100 block of NW 28th Place.

The driver of the pickup truck, later identified as Willie Thomas III, allegedly accelerated and crossed the double yellow lines on the roadway to illegally pass another vehicle. The deputy then observed Thomas throw an object out of the pickup truck’s driver’s side window near the 10200 block of NW 28th Place, and another item was thrown out of the same window near the 10300 block, according to the report.

Thomas then allegedly waved his arm out of the driver’s window, which the deputy interpreted as an attempt to get the deputy to pass the pickup truck. The deputy noted that the vehicle accelerated before eventually coming to a stop just north of the NW 28th Place intersection on NW 110th Avenue.

The deputy held both of the pickup truck’s occupants – Thomas (driver) and an adult male passenger – at gunpoint until a backup MCSO unit arrived. Thomas was then detained in handcuffs, and the passenger was arrested on unrelated charges in connection with a writ of attachment for child support.

During a search of the pickup truck, the report stated that a marijuana dispensary container was found on the center console, along with several pieces of a “green leafy substance” on the driver’s side floorboard. The substance later field-tested positive for marijuana.

In addition, the deputy returned to the area where several items had been thrown out of the pickup truck during the pursuit. According to the report, a white lid with a green leafy residue was found in the 10300 block of NW 28th Place, and another marijuana dispensary container was located nearby.

The green residue also field-tested positive for marijuana.

After being read his Miranda rights, Thomas refused to speak with law enforcement.

Thomas was arrested and transported to Marion County Jail. He was released the following day after positing a $12,000 bond, and he is being charged with fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer, tampering with evidence in a criminal proceeding, possession of marijuana (not more than 20 grams), and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A court date has not been scheduled yet, according to jail records.