Orlando's IRIS cameras help nab suspected pot smoker

Man accused of swallowing blunt

Published On: Aug 30 2012 05:15:44 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 29 2012 06:44:19 PM EDT
Joe Haywood
ORLANDO, Fla. -

A 29-year-old Orlando man was arrested on suspicion of smoking pot and swallowing a joint after he was spotted with marijuana on the city's video camera system, known as IRIS.

Joe E. Haywood was arrested by Orlando police on charges of possession of cannabis less than 20 grams and tampering with physical evidence.

According to an arrest affidavit, an Orlando police sergeant was using an Innovative Response to Improve Safety (IRIS) camera to monitor South Terry Avenue and West South Street, an area known for drug activity, and spotted three men possibly smoking marijuana.

As officers approached the men, Haywood turned his back and appeared to put a blunt in his mouth, the arrest affidavit stated. 

Haywood was handcuffed and ordered to open his mouth but refused, so an officer tried for 30 seconds to use pressure points on his jaw to open his mouth, the affidavit said.  Officers said Haywood swallowed the joint during the incident and marijuana could be smelled on him, the report stated.

Officers said they then noticed a green leafy substance, which they described as a unburned cannabis leaf, on Haywood's teeth, according the affidavit.

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Haywood was arrested and taken to jail.  The other two men were not arrested, according to police.

Local 6 legal expert Amir Ladan said the issue with Haywood's arrest is that it wasn't originally based on the evidence but instead on an officer's opinion of what appeared to be a joint.

"I don't know that they can watch a video and then rush to a scene and try to make an arrest based of a video," Ladan told Local 6. "So if they show up and these three guys are hanging out and passing around a handful of peanuts, they've got nothing."

The IRIS camera initiative was launched in Orlando in 2008 as a tool to help police fight crime.  The cameras are operated by the Orlando Police Department and are viewed by an officer around the clock, according to the city's website.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.