Judge not happy with police in cocaine case
April 2, 2002
Prosecutors supported the warrantless arrest of an alleged cocaine dealer Monday during the suspect’s appearance in Pitkin County District Court.
Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills said he spoke with the officer who arrested Cesar Tapia-Perez, 18, last month for cocaine possession and believed the arrest was valid.
“It’s our opinion that the case should go forward,” Wills told Judge J.E. DeVilbiss.
The judge has expressed reservations in the Tapia-Perez case since signing an affidavit for a warrantless arrest two weeks ago. Tapia-Perez was taken into custody on March 16 as part of an investigation into a theft case, and police found a large amount of drugs in Tapia-Perez’s pockets while searching for stolen jewelry.
A woman who called police about the theft of two rings that Saturday night pointed to Tapia-Perez as he left the Cooper Street Pier, claiming that he was the man who stole them from her. Two officers handcuffed Tapia-Perez, and, during a routine pat-down for weapons, the officers allegedly found 42 bindles and seven “eight-balls” of cocaine, as well as a baggie of marijuana. Field tests performed by the officers confirmed the identity of the substances.
Tapia-Perez was subsequently arrested for possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a class three felony. He is currently being held in the Pitkin County Jail on $10,000 bond.
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During Tapia-Perez’s first court appearance on March 18, DeVilbiss said he saw probable cause to detain the suspect but was not happy with the fact that he was taken into custody without a warrant. The judge said a motion to suppress could be used to help Tapia-Perez avoid prosecution, considering the circumstances of his arrest.
Tapia-Perez, who has been appointed a public defender, will be arraigned on May 6.