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Posted: February 10, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Improper parking leads to more serious charges

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Mason

Four men were arrested and charged with possession of a sawed-off shotgun after catching Porterdale Police Officers’ attention by illegally parking in a handicap space.

According to reports, around 12:52 a.m. on Jan. 30, officers from the PPD noticed the illegally-parked vehicle which was allegedly running with loud music "bumping" through the trunk, parked at the Shell Station. There was one passenger in the vehicle who was reportedly looking around out of the windows of the Chrysler 300 in what officers felt was a "nervous" manner.

There was one man standing inside the gas station who came out to speak with the officer and claim possession of the vehicle, according to reports. That man, identified as 22-year-old Christopher Lewis Meriwether, allegedly told officers that he thought it would be fine to park in the handicap space just to run in the store and grab drinks.

Meriwether reportedly told officers that the vehicle belonged to his mother and that he was visiting from Indiana. When asked where his mother lived, he allegedly told officers Stone Mountain, and, when questioned as to why the vehicle had Newton County tags, allegedly told officers that she had just recently moved from the county.

While officers ran the vehicle information through dispatch, they reportedly kept watch on the vehicle’s passenger, identified as 20-year-old Antoine Jamal Mason and two other men inside the store, identified as 19-year-old Brandon Mykel Macon and 18-year-old Clifton Lenard Coats, who appeared to be with the driver as well. Both Macon and Coats came outside of the store and stood with Meriwether, confirming they were all together.

According to reports, all of the men appeared to be nervous, and Meriwether was visibly shaking as he pulled his license from his wallet. Meriwether was issued a citation, and officers checked the passengers for warrants. While this was happening, the four men were asked if there were weapons in the vehicle, and they reportedly said there were not, but when asked for permission to search the car, Meriwether reportedly said, "Don’t you have to have a warrant for that?" and stating that the vehicle belonged to his mother so he might not know what was inside of it, but that he didn’t want to allow a search.

A K-9 officer was called in, and after an open-air sniff of the vehicle caused to dog to alert of the possibility of drugs inside, Meriwether was informed the vehicle could now be searched. Two small green leafy pieces of what appeared to be marijuana were located in the rear seat of the vehicle, according to reports, as well as two red 12-gague Winchester shotgun shells. When asked where the shotgun was, Meriwether reportedly told officers it was with his mother at her home.

A further search of the car allegedly yielded a pistol grip sawed-off shotgun behind the back seat, between the seat and a large speaker box which took up the entirety of the trunk. The shotgun, according to reports, had the serial numbers filed off and was sawed off to an illegally short length.

All four were arrested and informed that additional charges could be forthcoming if they entered the Newton County Detention Center with narcotics on their person. At that point, Macon and Coats allegedly told officers they had marijuana hidden on their person. Two bags were recovered from Coat’s change pocket on his pants and Macon allegedly had a bag of marijuana hidden in his shoe.

All men were charged with possession of a sawed-off shotgun, criminal use of an article and carrying a concealed weapon. Coats and Macon were also charged with possession of marijuana less than an ounce and Meriwether was additionally charged with improper parking and possession of arms by a convicted felon.

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