Drugs or Diabetes?
By Lauren Zaren
Eight people were identified and detained on the evening of February 21, 2018. Officers approached two houses on the same property on Solano Street with a search warrant. Before stepping inside, they encountered a man in the front yard, who had 1.8g of heroin and some amount of methamphetamine on his person. This man was not before the court today, but three other detainees were.
David Brinsfield and Mary Wulff owned the property, living in the back house and renting out the front one, at this time, to a man named Cecil Thomason.
Officer Shad Bagley of West Sacramento Police Department and the Yolo County Narcotics Drug Enforcement Team was the first and only witness. He has over 12 years of experience patrolling the area and working around controlled substances.
He testified that the back residence contained used meth pipes and numerous uncapped hypodermic needles strewn across sofas and the floor. Officers also found a baggie with .3g of meth and two digital scales.
They did not encounter any large sums of cash in either house, but Officer Bagley noted that the department has received numerous complaints by neighbors about frequent visitors and even people sleeping in the backyard.
Officer Bagley described entering the front house, to be greeted by the sight of Mr. Thomason leaving the bathroom and the sound of the toilet running.
Upon further investigation, a bag with a dark colored substance was found outside under the bathroom window, which had a ripped screen. Officer Bagley confirmed that the bag was wet when discovered, although the ground outside was dry, suggesting that Thomason attempted to flush it before police entered his home.
Attorney Robert Spangler, representing Mr. Thomason, argued that the back house had several windows near his client’s bathroom window. Spangler suggested the bag could have been thrown from Mr. Brinsfield and Ms. Wulff’s window instead. Officer Bagley could not remember the layout of the property clearly enough to rule this out.
Furthermore, during the initial detention process, each suspect was photographed with a placard naming the room in which they were found. Strangely enough, when Mr. Thomason was photographed, the placard read “bedroom” rather than “bathroom.” Unfortunately, it is impossible to confirm Mr. Thomason’s location at the time using hard evidence, as none of the officers involved in the search were wearing body cams.
Narcotics tests revealed that the bag contained 16.5g of heroin. Officer Bagley testified that this large of an amount is likely possessed for the purpose of sales. He explained that most users would not carry this amount for fear of an overdose due to a lack of self control, the risk of being robbed, and the danger of being “mooched off of” by friends. Officers also found a used meth pipe in the kitchen as well as several hypodermic needles in the only bedroom.
Officer Bagley also noted the presence of a loaded needle in Mr. Thomason’s house, which was disposed of before the substance inside was identified. Attorney Spangler defended Mr. Thomason, explaining to the court that his client also had a diabetes kit and insulin in his bedroom, a potentially innocent explanation for all of the needles.
In the end, Mr. Brinsfield and Ms. Wulff were not given a holding order. Judge Timothy L. Fall concluded that they were not using their home primarily to use, give away, or sell controlled substances. Thus, they are not in violation of Health and Safety Code section 11366, and this charge was dropped.
However, a holding order was placed on Mr. Thomason based on circumstantial evidence. He may face charges for possession and sale of controlled substances as well as an attempt to destroy evidence. An arraignment will be held on Wednesday, May 1, at 10am.