A man was charged with public drunkenness and carrying weapons on school property last week, and his wife with disorderly conduct, after arriving at Dade Elementary School to pick up two children in an obviously impaired condition. Here's what the police report said about that incident:
A law enforcement officer went to the front office of DES on Sept. 11 after the school principal called the Dade Sheriff's Office to report that a parent who had arrived to pick up his children appeared to be highly intoxicated. The officer recognized the man from previous encounters. He observed the man walking out of the assistant principal's office and down the hallway toward him and noticed his gait was unsteady. The man used the wall to prop up against, had slurred and "thick" speech, and had a buildup of white sputum in the corners of his mouth. He was sweating.
The officer, familiar with the parent from past dealings at the sheriff's office, asked him if he had recently started any new medication that could possibly be altering his mental status. "That's my business," the man replied. The officer explained he was not trying to dig into the man's personal life but that he felt his current mental status was not normal for him and was concerned for his well-being. The man then advised the officer he was taking Xanax.
During this conversation, the man used a few curse words loud enough to be heard by surrounding individuals. The officer explained to him that they were in a school with children present and he would not be allowed to use curse words again. The man said he understood. The officer then told the man he could not let him leave with the two children appearing to be so impaired. The man said he understood but that he felt the officer was "making this bigger than it is."
The officer could see the man's wife, with whom he was also familiar, in the man's vehicle in the parking lot, and it appeared that she was passed out. The man said he would check on her, and the officer said he would go, too. At the vehicle, the man was initially unable to wake his wife after several attempts. The officer notified dispatch and requested emergency medical services for an unresponsive female.
After approximately three minutes of unsuccessful attempts to arouse the wife, she did finally wake up, but afterwards appeared to be extremely intoxicated herself. The officer observed her to have slurred speech and to be unable to stay awake during conversation or to stand up without falling over. She was also crying randomly.
At this time, Dade detectives, Trenton police and Department of Family and Children's Service (DFACS) personnel arrived at the scene. Asked about why she was in the condition she was in, the wife stated that she had taken her medication this morning and that she was stressed about a court case she was supposed to be at in Catoosa County that afternoon.
The Dade deputy advised the man to try to get in touch with someone who could take his family and vehicle, and he said he would contact his father. While speaking with the man, the officer had observed a bulge on his right side, in the shape of a pistol handle. The officer asked him what was on his side and told him not to reach for it. The man not answering, the officer lifted his shirt and confirmed it was a mid-size handgun. The man said the gun was "chambered" with a round, so the officer removed the firearm, made it safe and placed it on the bed of the pickup truck. The officer asked him why he would take a loaded firearm inside the school, especially while appearing intoxicated, and he responded that he did not know it was illegal to carry a concealed weapon inside a school. The officer advised him it was posted at the front door of the school, where he entered, in plain view.
The officer arrested the man for public drunkenness and carrying a weapon within school safety zone, further patted him down, placed him in handcuffs and double-locked them. The man was then placed in a patrol car and transported to the jail.
The officer then spoke again to the wife, asking her if there was anything illegal in the vehicle. She said no. He asked her if there were any pills in the vehicle, and she said yes. She pulled a bag from her side of the vehicle that contained what she described as snacks for her kids. The officer observed that it contained a few small bags of various flavored chips and a few drinks. She also pulled three bottles of pills from the bag. Those pill bottles contained Xanax, Neurontin and Hydrocondone.
All three bottles were prescribed to the husband. The wife asked if she could keep the medication, but the officer advised her he was taking the medication to the jail for safekeeping along with the husband's wallet and pocketknife. The wife said she would just go to the doctor and get some more.
The officer asked her to call somebody to pick her up from the school. While trying to get someone to come, the woman continued to get in and out of the car. She was still unable to stand without assistance or to follow orders to stay in the vehicle. After repeated and unsuccessful attempts to keep her seated in the vehicle, the officer placed her under arrest for disorderly conduct, and she was also transported to the jail.
The vehicle was turned over to the man's father, and so were the children. The firearm, magazines and ammunition were taken into evidence, and the medication was turned over to the jail nurse. The wallet and pocketknife were turned over to detention staff to be kept with the man's property