By Joe Johnson
A University of Georgia football player had a gun in his car and admitted to having smoked marijuana when an officer conducted a traffic stop on the player’s vehicle over the weekend in downtown Athens, according to an incident report released Monday by Athens-Clarke County police report.
A Dodge Charger being driven by 20-year-old Bulldogs running back James Edwin Cook caught an officer’s attention on East Clayton Street at about 12:44 a.m. Saturday because it displayed an auto dealer’s drive-out tag, and the officer believed the driver was taking evasive maneuvers to keep the officer from being able to check the temporary tag, according to the report.
As soon as the police car got behind Cook’s car, the football player pulled the Charger into a handicap parking space.
The officer’s suspicions were further aroused when Cook and his passenger immediately exited the car, according to the report.
The officer wrote in his re[ort that when people exit a vehicle during a traffic stop “they are attempting to remove themselves from contraband within the vehicle.”
After ordering Cook and his passenger to get back into the car, the officer spoke with Cook through the open driver’s side window.
“The driver informed me he did not have his driver’s license on his person, and he was a football player ay UGA,” the officer wrote in his report.
“As we spoke, I could smell the strong odor of burnt marijuana,” according to the report. When asked about the smell of pot, Cook reportedly replied that “there wasn’t any more in the car because he smoked it.”
In addition to the odor of burnt marijuana, the officer noted some loose marijuana “shake” in the car’s center console. When officers began to search the car, Cook’s passenger informed them that his Glock 19 pistol was in the glove box, the report noted.
“The search was concluded and no other amount of marijuana, other than shake, was found in the vehicle,” according to the police report. “However, during the search an unsealed 1.75-liter glass bottle of Hennessy cognac was found behind the driver’s seat of the vehicle."
The passenger, a 21-year-old Ellenwood man, told police the cognac was his.
A computer check on Cook’s Florida driver’s license revealed it was invalid, according to the report
Cook was subsequently arrested and charged with driving while unlicensed and possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
He was released from jail at 2:57 a.m. on personal recognizance bonds totaling $2,000.