Courier Staff Writer
Those driving home during rush hour Thursday night may have seen several officers surrounding a vehicle at Wapello and Fourth streets.
Wapello County Chief Deputy Sheriff Don Phillips said the sheriff’s department had a warrant for Jesse James Clawson, 25, of Ottumwa, as a result of an investigation into metal stolen from a county farmer that was then sold for scrap.
Clawson was charged with third-degree theft and criminal trespassing at approximately 6 p.m. Thursday at Wapello and Fourth streets.
An off-duty deputy saw Clawson get into his vehicle. The deputy then followed Clawson, knowing there were warrants against him, until on-duty deputies could arrive.
Some who drove past the scene wondered why the deputies had their weapons drawn.
“It’s not uncommon for us to draw our weapon when we’re dealing with somebody we’re familiar with that could have a weapon on themselves,” Phillips said. “I’m not saying we’ve dealt with [Clawson] in the past and he’s had weapons, it’s just not uncommon for us to draw our gun when we’re in that situation or when the individual in that vehicle has arrest warrants on them that could potentially have a gun.”
The initial off-duty deputy pulled in front of Clawson’s vehicle so he would not attempt to elude law enforcement, Phillips said.
“Then the other two deputies working caught up to the location, and a couple of city cars [Ottumwa Police Department] arrived, too,” he said.
Two other Ottumwans in the vehicle were also arrested: Justice Nord, 18, was charged with carrying weapons; and Alek Smith, 21, was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
Phillips noted that while it’s not uncommon for law enforcement to pull their weapon in this situation, citizens should not worry about officers pulling their weapons during ordinary traffic stops, such as speeding.