On Friday, October 14, 2016, I, Sergeant Michael Capasso was on duty for the Somerville Police as the Patrol Supervisor. At approximately 9:19 PM, I queried Massachusetts Registration 2DS297 via the CJISWEB as I observed a black female operator speed pass my marked cruiser on McGrath Highway (vehicle was in far right lane, I was in the second lane to immediate left). The listing came back active to a 1993 Honda Accord, registered to Ms. Ashley Tyler. The listing revealed that Ms. Tyler’s license status was expired / nonrenewable. As I entered the operator’s lane of travel, in preparation of conducting a motor vehicle stop due to the license status, I observed the traffic light at the intersection of McGrath Highway and Medford Street turn red. Both McGrath Highway and Medford Street are public ways within the City of Somerville.
As the operator arrived at the red light, she took a right turn, still at a high rate of speed, onto Medford Street (from McGrath Highway), despite there being a posted “No Turn on Red” sign. I conducted a motor vehicle stop in front of 252 Medford Street in which the operator pulled into the apartment building driveway (in a posted no park zone). As I was about to exit my cruiser to engage the operator, I could observe the female operator moving in a manner consistent with a person trying to conceal / retrieve something from the center console / passenger seat area. As a result of these movements, I activated the cruiser spot light to better illuminate the vehicle. As I called in this stop via police radio, Officer Van Nostrand and Officer Ruf (East 1 Patrol Unit) were nearby and responded as back up. I approached the passenger side front window and requested the operator for her license and registration. The operator opened a small red, white, and blue backpack located on the passenger seat, and retrieved a wallet that contained her license. I confirmed that the operator was the registered owner, Ashley Tyler. Ms. Tyler was unable to produce the vehicle’s registration. I advised Ms. Tyler for the reason for the stop, and informed her that her license expired on September 16, 2016. Ms. Tyler apologized, stated she was unaware of her license status, and admitted to speeding because she was afraid she was going to run out of gas.
During our discussion, I could smell the odor of unburnt marijuana emanating from within the vehicle. I asked Ms. Tyler how much weed she had in the car, which resulted in her handing me a zip lock bag containing marijuana (later weighed in at approximately 10.5 grams). As Ms. Tyler handed me the bag, I noticed her repeatedly showing interest in the small leather backpack where she retrieved her license from. Because Ms. Tyler opened the bag (to retrieve her wallet and license), I was able to see into an unzipped pocket stuffed with multiple stacks of cash. Officers’ Van Nostrand and Ruf, positioned at the driver’s window, noticed 2 plastic bags protruding from her left jacket pocket. Ms. Tyler removed the bags upon request and claimed she had them to make her child sandwiches.
I asked Ms. Tyler why she drove past the gas station at McGrath Highway and Pearl Street if she needed gas, and was unable to provide me with an answer. Because Ms. Tyler was subject to arrest for the unlicensed operation, I ordered Ms. Tyler out of the car. Ms. Tyler delayed her exit, and began reaching around the car. I entered the passenger compartment, advised Ms. Tyler to slow down, and do as I requested. Ms. Tyler’s look on her face suddenly changed, and appeared to become increasingly nervous. I asked Ms. Tyler if there was anything in the vehicle I should be aware of, and explained that I would be inventorying and towing it. Ms. Tyler stated that she was unsure, and explained that a person was in her car earlier and may have left drugs underneath the passenger seat. As Ms. Tyler exited, I advised her to keep her hands away from her pockets and directed her to Officer Van Nostrand. I inspected the area around the front passenger seat and discovered no evidence.
After Officer Van Nostrand provided Ms. Tyler with her Miranda warnings, I noticed Ms. Tyler’s phone to have numerous incoming calls from various people that would appear on her caller ID. I explained to Ms. Tyler that I suspected her of being a drug dealer and informed her that I would be requesting a K9 narcotic dog to respond to our location. With Ms. Tyler’s privacy in mind, I gave her an opportunity to remove any incriminating evidence she may have concealed in or on her body. Ms. Tyler stated that she had nothing on her. As we awaited the arrival of Trooper Robert Tom Janeczak and his K9 Tank, I noticed a slight round bulge in the left arm pocket of Ms. Tyler’s pink jacket. I asked Ms. Tyler what she had in her pocket, to which she stated the Officers’ already checked her. I unzipped the pocket and noticed two separate folds of cash and had a partial view of a plastic bag that was stored above the money. I removed the cash and discovered it to be $250 (stack one was $100 and stack 2 was $150). Believing the bag may contain narcotics, I removed it and observed 5 individually wrapped bags containing a white powder / rocky substance, believed to be cocaine. Preliminary weight of the 5 bags was 1.7 grams.
During Trooper Janeczak and K9 Tank’s scan of the vehicle, K9 Tank showed interest inside the trunk and alerted to a Mario Brother’s backpack which was on top of a red tool box. Both items were removed and inspected by Officers’ on scene. I unzipped the Mario Brother’s backpack and discovered a makeup box tied in a plastic bag, as well as a mason jar full of quarters and loose $1 bills. I opened the plastic bag, opened the lid of the box, and discovered 3 bundles of cash. The total sum of cash inside the box was $3155. The first stack contained 2 bundles ($695 and $900), the second stack contained 2 bundles ($900 and $470), and the third stack contained $190 in one dollar bills and two drug ledgers. Written on the top bills of each stack was the sum for that specific bundle ($695, $470, and $190).
During a further search for evidence, I located $100 (2 $50 bills) in the wallet that contained Ms. Tyler’s, as well as a small pair of scissors (commonly used to cut bags that have been secured for distribution). The red, white, and blue backpack (on passenger seat) contained a total of $4010, which was folded into 3 stacks (stack 1: $2750, stack 2: $160, stack 3: $1100).
Ms. Tyler, post Miranda, admitted to selling the bags and informed me that each bag was packaged as “20’s” and “40’s” (as in their price).
Ms. Tyler is charged with unlicensed operation, red light violation, and possession with intent to distribute a class B substance.
Sgt. Michael Capasso #285