Arrest Warrant Inspires Massachusetts Driver To Make As Many Mistakes As Possible During Traffic Stop

Some people have not been taking this blog to heart and so apparently did not believe that it was not good to take a bad situation with law enforcement and make it worse. Now, 19-year-old Falmouth resident, Tevis Yarmala, faces multiple charges after he allegedly struck and tried to stab a Falmouth police officer in the face with a stick during a traffic stop last week.

Mr. Yarmala is alleged to have run a red light. First strike. Observing this, Patrolman Christopher Bartolomei , according to police reports, pulled the vehicle over. Mr. Yarmala is said to have greeted the officer by name. Second strike. When the patrolman “detected” the odor of burnt marijuana and asked about it, Mr. Yarmala admitted to smoking marijuana at a friend’s house. Third strike.

In this particular game…not out yet.

Mr. Yarmala was then ordered out of the car. His response was apparently to strike Officer Bartolomei in the head with his elbow when Officer Bartolomei attempted to remove a plastic bag containing marijuana from Mr. Yarmala’s pocket. A struggle ensued in which Mr. Yarmala is said to have made “moans and groans as if he were possessed.”

Strike out.

A passing motorist came to the officer’s assistance and the two were able to subdue Yarmala sufficiently so that he could be handcuffed with his hands in front of him. Mr. Yarmala, who was not ready to give up the game, is reported to have reached above his head, grab a four inch stick and attempt to stab Officer Bartolomei in the face. When additional police arrived, the Commonwealth’s newest guest was handcuffed with his hands behind his back and shackled. Ever the optimist, he continued to put up a struggle.

But it was “game over”.

During the fight, Mr. Yarmala was apparently able to successfully grab the bag, rip it and scatter some of the contents on the grass. A portion of the marijuana that had been scattered was recovered. It, along with portion still in the bag, totaled 60 grams.

Officer Bartolomei injured his knee during the fight when he crashed through a stone wall. He was treated at Falmouth Hospital and told that he may have sustained ligament damage.

Mr. Yarmala, aka Defendant, was charged with possession of a class D substance, possession of a class D substance with intent to distribute, violating drug laws near school or park, assault and battery on a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, disorderly conduct and several traffic violations. An arrest warrant had already been in force at the time of his arrest, the result of an OUI and leaving the scene of an accident on August 28th.

Sam’s take:

Well, at least Mr. Yarmala had more to be afraid of than simply getting a traffic ticket given the outstanding arrest warrant. However, as discussed in earlier blogs, all he accomplished was to make a bad situation infinitely worse. The fact is, even if there is a warrant out for your arrest, engaging the officer in a struggle is going to make your plight much, much worse. And, by the way, if you are in mid-struggle with the solo police officer…when a bunch of his fellow officers show up…your chances at success do not increase, they decrease. And when you are cuffed and shackled? It is a strong sign that you are probably not going to win the struggle. As they say in “Star Trek”, “Resistance is futile”.

Actually, Mr. Yarmala’s mistakes began long before last week. First of all, leaving the scene of an accident in which there was damage is a crime in itself and is seldom successful. He apparently was aware that there was an arrest warrant out for him. I cannot tell you how often I meet a client who was aware they had such a warrant, but thought they could somehow outlive it without having to answer to it. These meetings often take place in jail, by the way. So far, at least in my more than twenty years of experience in the Criminal Justice Trenches, this has not been a gamble that pays off. Things get much worse if you do not address the warrant yourself voluntarily before the good folks in blue show up at your door. So, if there is a warrant out for your arrest, deal with it before it catches up with you.

It was a mistake for “You Can’t Catch Me” Yarmala to go through the red light or to drive after smoking marihuana . Those are really so obvious they are barely worth mentioning. So, let’s go to the next stop (no pun intended). Especially if you are driving around with an arrest warrant dangling over your head, the wiser course is to not have some leftover drugs in your pocket. If pulled over under these circumstances, it is not the best of judgment to be a wise-guy and happily greet the officer by name. And if you found these things to difficult to follow…you really do not want to answer happy little questions like if you had been smoking marihuana. There is that whole right to remain silent and get a lawyer thing, remember?

And then there is that attacking of the police officers problem. Bad idea. You will not win. The only rewards you can hope for are more charges and greater injuries.

By the way, assuming he was not merely trying to fit in some planting, Slugger Yarmala’s attempts to sprinkle out the marihuana was really a fool’s errand. First of all, as discussed in earlier blogs, the drugs do not have to be found physically on you for you to be successfully prosecuted for them. Even if they did, if they had already been observed in your pocket, dumping them in front of the officer does not usually change history.

So, let’s review the lessons of today’s daily blog:

1. If you have an accident causing property or physical damage, do not simply leave;
2. If there is a warrant out for your arrest, get an attorney and deal with it immediately, if not sooner;
3. Do not drive stoned or drunk and do not carry your stash around with you while out for a drive;
4. Do not engage the officer who stops you in clever repartee like calling him or her by name or telling them that you just smoked pot. Answer the questions you have to answer (as in give your license and registration) and wait for a lawyer to assist you;
5. Do not attack, fight, struggle with, try to kill, attempt to outrun, drive over, stab, dump drugs in front of, or even argue with the officer. Do what you are told and minimize damage; and finally,
6. Read this daily blog and take its lessons to heart!

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