Scruffians battle Serpent Commandos of the Law

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He didn’t want to go to jail

No sooner did Knox County Officer Donald Pope try to pull over the silver Hyundai Elantra than the car accelerated like a rocket-fueled bat from hell down the East Knox County thoroughfare known as Huckleberry Road. 

It was 4 a.m. on Saturday, July 31, and it’s not at all clear from the police report why Pope was so determined to stop the Elantra. Was it for speeding? Swerving? A broken taillight? The police report filed afterward by Pope doesn’t say, as it apparently didn’t matter enough to be recorded for posterity.

What is clear is that the driver of the diminutive import didn’t know who he was screwing around with. He was, in fact, soon to learn something that regular readers of Hard Knox Wire already know: Pope is not the type of cop to be deterred by something as trivial as a high-speed pursuit down a dark, twisting country road in the middle of the night. No, not even when the chase lasts for 20 minutes and eats up nearly 25 miles of East Tennessee blacktop ….

Whatever Pope’s suspicions were, they were apparently accurate. The driver of the Elantra had to be up to no good if they were willing to risk life and limb in this way. The Elantra tore down single-lane roads, at one point even reaching 80 mph (in a 45 mph zone) and, when finally reaching a two-lane road again, driving the wrong way in an attempt to shake his pursuer. 

Pope, of course, just kept coming, blue lights blazing and sirens whooping like a snipe caught in a mousetrap. 

Eventually the pursuit came to an end at Stoney Point Road around 4:20 a.m. Yet again, Pope apparently didn’t see any reason to include certain details, like how exactly the vehicle was brought to a stop, and who are we to complain? The important thing is that the dastardly driver was caught, and do the Gods of Radar Love truly care if that happened via a flat tire, an empty gas tank, or a pit maneuver? 

Inside the Elantra were two occupants, undoubtedly bewildered by their lack of successful escapage (yes, we invented that word just now which absolutely makes it a real — and trademarked — addition to the English language). The driver and passenger were both adult males, ages 36 and 40, which is way, way too old for that kind of stunt. 

Pope (and the zillion other cops who undoubtedly rushed to the scene) now had just one question for the two desperadoes: Why

“The driver was asked why he did not stop,” Pope said. “He stated he did not have a driver license and he did not want to go to jail.”

Of course. 

Anyhow, it turned out there was a bit more to the driver’s angst than an absent license. A records check revealed his license to be revoked for DUI as well as outstanding warrants for theft and probation violation. 

“An inventory search of the vehicle revealed approximately 3.34 grams of suspected meth, located on the front passenger floor. The substance’s bag was broke open and the suspected meth was rubbed into the carpet as (if) it was trying to be destroyed during the pursuit,” Pope wrote in his report. 

The passenger was charged with drug possession and trying to destroy evidence, Pope said. 

A paddy wagon soon collected the two miscreants for deposit at the county jail and the Elantra (which, of course, had a fake license plate) was towed from the scene. 

Thongs vs. snakes 

What does a pair of nondescript male underwear, poisonous snakes, and hand grenades have in common?

Why, a chain motel off Lovell Road, of course!

That’s admittedly not the most obvious of answers, so let us explain (and ponder what an “obvious” answer to that question could possibly be)…. 

With a clientele drawn from the endless flow of traffic on Interstates 40/75 plus several nearby truck stops and bars, the overnight accommodations that service the Lovell Road exit range from “comfortable but colorful” to “plague pit plus Hunger Games.”  The hotel in question belongs decisively in the first category, as it offers clean rooms, wi/fi and a free continental breakfast. It’s part of a nationwide chain that caters to predominantly middle-class customers, most of whom want nothing more than a safe, quiet overnight shelter for themselves and their families.

They certainly don’t expect to be awakened in the early morning hours to witness a scene torn from a John Waters film unfold before their sleepy eyes as a team of cops tries to corral a 44-year-old man clad only in his skivvies while he quite spectacularly fails to exorcise his personal demons in the parking lot. 

As you’ve undoubtedly deduced already, that’s exactly what the staff and customers of this normally placid hotel were treated to on August 5. Unsurprisingly, someone called E-911 as the half-naked dude began raising hell amongst the parked cars and trucks, babbling about legless reptiles and (we assume) the lack of room service.  The ensuing police report didn’t specify what type of underwear he was clad in (boxers, briefs, etc.) so we’re exercising authorial discretion and stipulating that he was wearing a banana hammock (a.k.a. thong), for no reason other than it makes the story better that way….

A contingent of officers descended upon the parking lot, and bathed the scene in strobing blues lights, which had the immediate effect of calming the subject …. not. In fact, when the police arrived, the dumbfounded crowd could practically hear the gears in the man’s head shift from “Paranoid” to “Batshit Crazy” as the cops tried at first to reason with — and then subdue — Mr. Banana Hammock.

It must have been quite a sight, according to the ensuing police report. Every time the cops got close to the man, he’d take off on his bare feet and somehow manage to outrun them while “several dozen” people stood outside their hotel rooms, transfixed by the drama. He apparently kept his middle-aged body in pretty good shape, though, since he was able to keep up a continuous verbal description of the contents of his brain as he darted back-and-forth like a pinball. 

 “(He) was yelling that he was being chased by snakes and that he knew officers were trying to kill him with hand grenades,” the police report said.

As athletic as Mr. Banana Hammock was, the encounter was pretty much predestined to end with him in handcuffs. It took an undisclosed (but surely ridiculous) amount of time to wrestle him into a set of restraints, but even then he continued kicking so hard the cops couldn’t manhandle him into a cruiser, leading to him eventually thrashing about on the pavement until “he hit his head,” the report stated.

The officers ultimately took him to Tennova at Turkey Creek to get his head checked out, as it was obviously malfunctioning long before it got bumped in the parking lot. While in the emergency room, he allegedly admitted to smoking methamphetamine earlier in the night, which provided a totally reasonable explanation for running around half-naked in public so he wouldn’t be exploded by Serpent Commandos of the Law. So reasonable, in fact, that the officers charged him with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest, although it wasn’t clear from the report if he was taken to jail or to another, more secure, hospital. 

Hopefully one without snakes, meth, or military-grade explosives and stocked only with boxers and briefs.

Well, that escalated quickly….

It began with an improper left turn in West Knoxville, progressed through a cloud of marijuana smoke, and ended with a pair of panties stuffed with crack cocaine. Why? ‘Cuz it’s the Scruffy freakin’ City, that’s why…..

The iniquitous series of events began just after midnight on Sunday, Aug. 1, when Knox County Officer Corey Metcalf watched a silver Jeep Grand Cherokee make an illegal turn onto Middlebrook Pike from Francis Road. 

Naturally enough, Metcalf pulled over the Jeep and then got out of his cruiser to see what the occupants — two young women — had to say for themselves. He could smell burning marijuana as he approached the Jeep’s window and, peering inside, he immediately spotted a partially smoked blunt. He and the other officers present (the report doesn’t specify how many) asked the driver, a 22-year-old woman, and her passenger to step out of the vehicle so they could conduct a search.

That’s pretty much when the traffic stop escalated from being the kind of incident that normally yields a couple of citations to the kind of incident that rap videos are based on. According to Metcalf, the Jeep contained 7.5 grams of meth and two “individually packaged bindles of suspected heroin, weighing 0.3 grams each” in the console. 

“The heroin was also wrapped in a piece of paper with a phone number written on it. Officers also located a jar in the rear center console containing several grams of marijuana,” Metcalf wrote. “In both the center console and inside the suspect’s purse there were numerous wads of small denomination bills totaling $646. The cash was wadded up in a manner consistent with hand to hand drug transactions. Officers also located three functioning cellphones in (her) purse along with a package of marijuana edibles.”

The driver was read her rights, at which point she allegedly told the cops that she smokes pot but doesn’t take heroin or meth. She was then loaded into a paddy wagon and taken to the county jail, where her saga continued.

“Transportation Officer Richardson notified officers that the intake officers at the Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility found an additional $1,676 in cash and an additional bindle of suspected crack cocaine weighing 0.6 grams concealed in the arrestee’s undergarments,” Metcalf said. “The suspected crack cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine were packaged in a manner and in precise amounts consistent with street-level drug sales. Due to the evidence discovered during the course of the investigation, it is more probable than not Ms. Jimenez was selling and/or distributing the drugs.”

It turned out the Jeep was a rental vehicle so it was towed from the scene, but the officers confiscated the cash and, mayhap, her passenger, as well (she was only mentioned once in the report and then disappeared completely from the narrative). Or perhaps she just melted away into the night, just another scruffian in this scruffiest of cities….

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 in these 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 September 13, 2021.