NWGA Scanner | April 15th, 2021

Rome man arrested for obstruction after throwing tantrum during traffic stop for distracted driving

According to a Floyd County Police Department incident report, on April 10th, 2021, at around 6:21 PM, Officer Sangphim was conducting patrol operations in the area of Chatillion Road near the intersection of Ash Street. Officer Sangphim reported, “[I] observed the driver of a Gold Toyota Sienna proceed through the roundabout driving onto the raised cement center divider (not designed to be driven over) failing to maintain his lane of travel and was holding his cell phone while looking down at it and was touching the screen with his fingers. [I] also observed that the driver was not wearing his seatbelt and the license plate displayed on the vehicle had a 2020 revalidation sticker affixed.” The officer conducted a traffic stop and made contact with the driver identified as Joshua Keith Williams, 35, of Rome. The officer attempted to inform Williams of the reason for the stop but was immediately argumentative, raising his voice at the officer. Williams admitted to looking at the “time” on his phone. He also admitted to the officer that he was not wearing his seatbelt and knowing that the new revalidation sticker was not affixed to the rear of the vehicle he was operating. Officer Sangphim reported, “[I] gave Mr. Williams lawful instructions to “sit tight and remain in his vehicle” after informing him he was going to be cited. Mr. Williams then attempted to get out of his vehicle, and [I] gave him another lawful order to remain in his vehicle and to close the door.” Williams complied but slammed the door shut so hard it shook the entire car. Williams again opened the door to his vehicle and exited his vehicle. He was again instructed by the officer to get back into the vehicle. He began to continue his tantrum, arguing with the officer once again, asking, “what have I done.” Williams refused to get back into his vehicle. Officer Sangphim reported, “At this point, it became clear to me that Mr. Williams was not going to obey lawful commands and would continue hindering me from finishing my duties (writing citations) during the traffic stop.” Williams was then asked to put his hands behind his back. The officer had to repeat the command multiple times before Williams would comply. Williams then refused to comply again by not dropping his wallet that was in his hand. Williams stated “no” and pulled his hands from the officer’s grasp. Williams then began to reach down toward his waistline, leaning down. Officer Sangphim reported, “[I] took a firm grip of Mr. Williams hand (wallet hand) and simultaneously used my legs to push Mr. Williams body into the door frame of his vehicle to control his movements.” Williams was then placed into custody without further incident. The officer allowed Williams to get someone to come to get the vehicle instead of towing it. Williams then requested to speak to a supervisor. SGT. Wade arrived on the scene to take Williams’s complaint. While en route to the Floyd County Jail, Officer Sangphim asked Williams if he could remember what color shirt the man standing on the sidewalk was wearing when he was going through the roundabout. He stated he didn’t know, but he did see the man, which is why he failed to maintain his lane. Officer Sangphim reported, “[I] then informed him that there was no man, and the reason he did not know that was that he was looking down at his phone during that time.” Williams was booked into the Floyd County Jail charged with willful obstruction of law enforcement officers, operation of vehicle without validation decal on the license plate, safety belts, use of required 18 and up, failure to maintain lane, and writing, sending, or reading text-based communication. According to online arrest records, Williams was arrested in 2019 for DUI. During the traffic stop, he threatened the life of a police officer, as well as their family.