LEOMINSTER — On Saturday, June 11 at 1:29 a.m., Officer William Taylor of the Leominster Police Department was dispatched to the area of Lancaster and Johnson streets for a report of a person asleep at the wheel of a car with a flat tire.
According to Officer Taylor’s Personnel Narrative for the incident, when he arrived on scene, he found a Toyota Rav4 parked with its left wheels on Lancaster Street (which is a public way in the City of Leominster) and its right wheels on the sidewalk (which is a Marked Lanes Violation).
“The Toyota was running with its hazard lights flashing,” wrote Officer Taylor in his Personnel Narrative. “The left front tire was shredded and flat, and there was a spare tire on the ground in the roadway near the left rear tire.”
According to Officer Taylor, the driver, who was later identified as Melinda Vasquez, 41, of Fitchburg, was “unconscious, slumped to her right, over the center console.”
“The transmission was in park. Melinda had a straight glass pipe with a burnt white-brown residue (AKA a ‘crack pipe’) in her hand. In Melinda’s lap she had a fanny pack and her phone,” wrote Officer Taylor. “Melinda’s phone was ringing, but she remained unresponsive to it.”
Officer Taylor added that in plain view he could see lighters and another glass pipe as well as some small metal rods with burnt ends, which he recognized as drug paraphernalia, i.e., “tools used for packing crack cocaine into smoking devices.”
Officer Taylor then said that he reached into Melinda’s Rav4 and shut off the Toyota’s push-button ignition.
“I took the pipe from Melinda’s hand and observed it to be packed with a burnt metal filing, similar to ‘Chore Boy’ copper scrubbers, which I know from my training and experience to be commonly used as a filter in pipes when smoking crack cocaine. I took the fanny pack from Melinda’s lap. I set both items out of Melinda’s reach, on top of the Toyota’s roof,” wrote Officer Taylor.
It was at this time – according to Officer Taylor’s account – that Vasquez “slowly awoke” as he shined his flashlight at her.
Vasquez told the officer that she pulled over to the side of the road when her tire blew out. She said that she called a friend to come help her change the tire, but fell asleep while waiting.
Officer Taylor said that since Vasquez’s pupils appeared smaller than normal and non-reactive, he believed that she was under the influence of a narcotic.
Officer Taylor said he called an ambulance to the scene, but Vasquez declined medical treatment. He then ordered Vasquez to exit the vehicle so he could search for further contraband.
“On top of the center console, there was a small cylindrical container which I opened and observed to contain at least one ounce of a white-brown granular substance, which I initially suspected to be heroin or fentanyl (based on Melinda’s earlier lethargy, which would be consistent with the use of such), though when I asked Melinda what it was, she answered that it was ‘crack,’” wrote Officer Taylor.
The officer also found an unlabeled bottle of gabapentin (an anti-seizure drug) on the passenger side floor, which Vasquez said she had a prescription for.
After finding the gabapentin, Officer Taylor placed Vasquez under arrest for OUI Drugs. He had an assisting female officer put Vasquez in hand-cuffs, perform a pat-frisk and transport her to the Leominster Police Department for booking.
Officer Taylor then searched Vasquez’s fanny pack. According to his Personnel Narrative, inside he found a gram scale (which is generally used for drug transactions), some more metal rods (crack paraphernalia), loose small white-brown rocks (suspected to be crack), and two loose unknown white pills stamped with “ES” (for which no query results were found on drugs.com), according to Officer Taylor.
Behind the driver’s seat was a bong in a shoebox with white residue on it “consistent with crack cocaine.” In the center console of the vehicle was another smoking apparatus packed with an unknown burnt substance, as well as a box of glassine sandwich baggies, which Officer Taylor said are commonly used for the unlawful distribution of drugs.
Quality Towing towed Vasquez’s Toyota.
Officer Taylor seized all of the aforementioned evidence and stored it in the drug box and evidence locker #14 at the police station. He issued Vasquez Massachusetts Uniform Citations for the aforementioned motor vehicle offenses.
For her possession of crack cocaine as well as a gram scale and sandwich baggies, Officer Taylor charged Vasquez with Possession of a Class B Substance with intent to Distribute. For her possession of 50 gabapentin pills, she was charged with Possession of a Class E Substance.
The officer also faxed a “Request for Immediate Threat License Suspension/Revocation” form to the RMV.
Vasquez was arraigned on June 13 in Leominster District Court.