Seatbelt violation turns to arrest on drug charges

CONYERS — A man pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt said he took it off because a chemical used at work irritated his skin. It was a different kind of substance, however, that landed him in jail.

Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Stephen McCullough was patrolling the area near Flat Shoals Road and Avalon Boulevard near Salem Road around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday when he noticed a man driving a black Dodge four-door pickup truck stopped at a traffic light was not wearing a shirt or his seatbelt.

After he pulled the driver over, McCullough approached the passenger side of the vehicle and asked the driver to roll down the window.

The man, Matthew Logan Lewis, 24, rolled the window down a few inches. Deputy McCullough asked him to roll the window down further so he could hear him. When Lewis complied, the deputy reported he smelled burnt marijuana.

“I asked him why he was sweating so much and he stated he did not have air conditioning in the department he worked in. He kept playing with his shirt, twisting it; he stated there is a substance or chemical that they use at work and that it irritated his skin (and) that’s why he took his seatbelt off, to take his shirt off,” McCullough stated in the report.

The deputy continued to smell the odor of burnt marijuana, so he called for another deputy to assist. When that deputy arrived, McCullough asked him to talk to the driver and see if he could smell anything from the truck, the report states.

“Deputy Durham returned to my vehicle and stated he could smell burnt marijuana inside the vehicle,” McCullough stated.

At that point, McCullough asked Lewis to step out of his truck.

“I asked Matthew if he smoked marijuana and he stated yes,” the deputy reported. “I asked if he had smoked today in his vehicle and he stated no. I told him I was going to check his vehicle because myself and Deputy Durham could smell it.”

When he checked the inside of the truck, the deputy found a dime-sized piece of raw marijuana on the floorboard, as well as pieces of raw marijuana all over the back seat and floor, the report states. McCullough also found several burned smoked blunt cigarettes in an ash tray near the driver’s side door.

The deputy also found a red and black bag stuffed under the seat that contained a pill bottle with suspected marijuana and a digital scale. In the console of the truck, McCullough found a clear glass pipe with white haze residue on it wrapped in a paper towel. He found a similar glass pipe in the lower console.

When confronted by the deputy, Lewis denied the pipes were his, but then admitted he had stashed something in his front pants pocket, the report states. The deputy found a white plastic container that held a small clear bag with a crystal-like substance that was suspected to be methamphetamine.

Lewis, of 1618 Ellington Road, was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, possession and use of drug-related objects, possession of methamphetamine, and seatbelt violation.