Peru, IN – A traffic stop on April 22, 2019, at approximately 2:07 a.m. in the area of West 6th Street and North Jefferson Street led to the arrest of three individuals on drug charges following a Peru Police Department K9 “Free Air Sniff”.
According to a PPD probable cause affidavit, Officer Jeremy Brindle conducted the traffic stop after the suspect vehicle failed to dim its bright lights when he passed the vehicle going in the opposite direction. According to his report, Brindle turned around and initiated the traffic stop with the suspect vehicle pulling into a driveway on North Jefferson Street just north of the alley between 6th and 5th Streets.
As Officer Brindle approached the vehicle, he observed the front seat passenger and the back seat passenger “moving around a lot.” The report also stated that the front seat passenger “turned several times in an attempt to see where I was at.”
The driver of the vehicle was identified as Nickolas Toepfer, 31, of Shipshewana, IN. The front seat passenger was identified as thirty-two-year-old Damian M. Phelps, of Peru, and the back seat passenger was identified as Shelby A. Myers, 22, of Amboy.
While speaking with the driver, Officer Brindle noted that Ms. Myers’ hands were shaking uncontrollably.
Officer Brindle asked Mr. Toepher to exit the vehicle to speak with him. As he exited the vehicle, other officers arrived on scene to assist.
While running warrant checks on the three subjects with Central Dispatch, Officer Brindle deployed his K9 partner Darro to conduct a “free air sniff” around the suspect vehicle. The K9’s behavior indicated the presence of drugs inside the suspect vehicle.
Officer Brindle then conducted a search of Mr. Toepher with nothing illegal being located.
Officer Brindle then asked Mr. Phelps to step out for his search. Upon exiting the vehicle, Brindle noticed that Phelps’ pants were unzipped. According to Brindle’s report “Due to my experience with the Peru Police Department, when an individual’s pants are undone or unzipped it usually means they just removed contraband or just placed contraband in the pants.”
During a search of Mr. Phelps, Officer Brindle located $499.00 in cash. When asked where he worked, Mr. Phelps stated he was working for a concrete union out of Fort Wayne but was unable to provide additional details. A handcuff key was also located in his right front coin pocket.
Officer Hagan then advised that he had already asked Ms. Myers to exit and had searched her pockets not locating anything illegal. Officer Brindle saw that Ms. Myers kept reaching toward her crotch area. Officer Brindle asked her to face him and to pull her pants up as they were saggy. Upon pulling her pants up, Officer Bindle noted a bulge in her crotch area. He informed her that he believed she was attempting to hide contraband.
Ms. Myers was placed in handcuffs. She advised Officer Brindle that she had a little marijuana and some pills in her pants.
Officer Hagan stood by with the three subjects while a search of the vehicle was conducted. Inside the vehicle, Officers located a green and white cigarette pack containing a white rolled paper that was burnt on the ends. This substance would later field test positive for marijuana.
While searching the back seat, Officers located a black digital scale where Ms. Myers was seated.
Inside the front passenger side door handle, Officer Smith advised he located a white rolled paper that was found to contain a green leafy plant-like material that would later test positive for marijuana.
Officer Smith also located a syringe inside the original package along with a vial of “Naloxone HCL”. At this point, both Mr. Phelps and Mr. Toepfer were placed in handcuffs.
Officer Brindle noticed Ms. Myers roll over to her knees and reach into her pants and pull out a large object. He then observed her as she threw the object under the front passenger side tire of his vehicle.
Upon investigation, the item thrown was a condom with one end tied in a knot. Inside the condom was a plastic bag. Officer Brindle also located a second clear bag that contained a small amount of a green leafy plant-like material that would later test positive for marijuana and weighed approximately .5 grams. Inside the condom, Officers would locate approximately 36 grams of methamphetamine.
Six syringes were located inside the engine compartment of the vehicle. A green and black scale was also located on the passenger side floorboard.
Both Toepher and Phelps were advised they were being placed under arrest for possession of marijuana.
All subjects denied any knowledge of the marijuana or syringes found in the search of the vehicle.
Mr. Toepher advised that Mr. Phelps had given Ms. Myers the narcotics to hide and advised they the narcotics belonged to Mr. Phelps.
Ms. Myers stated that Phelps handed her the narcotics to hide as the trio was being pulled over. She advised she got scared and just put the condom in her pants.
All three subjects were then transported to the Miami County Jail. The vehicle was also towed from the scene.
Damian Phelps, 32, of Peru, faces charges of Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Marijuana.
Shelby Myers, 22, of Amboy, faces charges of Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Methamphetamine.
Nickolas Toepfer, 31, of Shipshewana, IN, faces a charge of Possession of Marijuana.
All criminal suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.