An Oregon State Police trooper was dragged down Interstate 5 while partway through a car window during a traffic stop that netted a brick of cocaine and landed a Washington man in jail.
Giovanni Dante White, 24, of Lynnwood, Washington, was driving north on Interstate 5 between Talent and Phoenix at about 2:45 p.m. Tuesday when he was stopped by an OSP trooper for alleged traffic violations, according to court documents. Police said White was speeding and failed to signal.
An OSP trooper said he noticed a "strong odor of marijuana coming from inside" White's white Nissan Altima during the stop.
White told police he was on his way back from giving a friend a ride to Ashland.
After White refused to allow a search of his car, the trooper called for backup and a drug-sniffing dog. While waiting with the OSP officer near the patrol car, White ran back to his vehicle and climbed behind the wheel, police said.
The trooper ordered him to stop, reached inside the window and put the vehicle into park, but White began hitting the trooper in the face and neck, police said. The trooper punched White during the scuffle, then White put the car into drive while the trooper was still "tangled up in the steering wheel portion of the vehicle."
"Mr. White continued northbound while half of my body was still inside of the driver's side door," the trooper recounted in a document filed with Jackson County Circuit Court. "I had no other choice but to jump out of the driver's side window before Mr. White continued northbound at a fast rate of speed."
The trooper fell to the ground on the interstate, ran back to his vehicle and gave chase. A freeway bystander pointed the trooper to the south Medford Exit 27 off-ramp.
The trooper spotted crash debris at the intersection of Ellendale Drive and Barnett Road, then found the Nissan parked with its trunk open at a business in the 1700 block of Barnett Road. A pedestrian pointed police to Bear Creek.
The trooper caught White throwing a black trash bag in the creek and took him into custody, police said. White had hit another car at the intersection, the trooper reported, but no information about the damaged car was immediately available.
A Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement task force detective found a 2.2-pound brick of cocaine inside the trash bag along with what appeared to be other drugs that police weren't able to detect through sealed packages, OSP said.
White faces felony charges of manufacturing, delivering and possessing cocaine, attempting to elude police in a vehicle and assault on a police officer, along with misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and hit-and-run. At a court appearance Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court, Judge David Hoppe set White's bail at $500,000.
— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.