PALM DESERT – A driver high on marijuana blocked traffic, attempted to drive away from police, and was ultimately arrested and charged.
A vehicle blocking traffic caught the attention of a police officer Sunday at 4:00 in the afternoon. The 2010 Chrysler 3000 was stopped in the area of Washington Street, north of Avenue of the States in the city of Palm Desert where it was sitting in the #2 southbound traffic lane of Washington Street.
In an attempt to alert oncoming traffic of the impending hazard, the officer pulled up behind the vehicle and turned on his warning lights. When the officer approached the vehicle to assess the situation, he noticed that the driver was acting oddly. The man behind the wheel seemed disoriented and was reportedly somewhat unresponsive to the officer’s questions.
The fire department was called to respond in case the driver was suffering from a medical emergency. Waiting for emergency medical personnel to arrive, the officer remained with the vehicle and noted that there was a strong scent of marijuana emanating from within the Chrysler.
Assessing that the driver might be under the influence, the officer reached inside the vehicle to turn off the ignition. As the officer reached for the keys, the driver suddenly accelerated, stopping a short distance away. The officer ran after the vehicle and both the driver and the passenger jumped out of the car.
According to a press release from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, the officer was concerned about the driver’s state of mind and uncertain if either of the men were armed. Concerned for his own safety and that of the public, the officer ordered both men to get on the ground at gunpoint and requested assistance.
The driver, Michael Jude Jean-Baptiste , 26 of La Quinta, complied and lay on the ground. However the passenger had other plans. Alex Espinoza Natividad , 29 of Indio, refused to comply. With the arrival of additional deputies, both subjects were subdued and detained.
Nativadad was ultimately released from the scene despite his failure to initially cooperate. Jean-Baptiste was arrested for driving while impaired by drugs (Vehicle Code Section 23152(e) and booked at the Riverside County jail in Indio.
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