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Police in Utah say suspect tried to suffocate officer during traffic stop

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Posted at 2:30 PM, Dec 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 17:17:13-05

FARMINGTON, Utah — A routine traffic stop turned violent when a suspect pinned down two officers and attempted to choke one of them, police say.

The traffic stop began when Officer A. Gossels encountered a silver sedan stopped half in a travel lane and half on the shoulder of a local road.

Police say Benisimani Pouha, 42, was at the wheel of the car.

Pouha said that his car had broken down. The officer noticed that there was "a pipe with white residue consistent with methamphetamine sitting on the passenger seat."

Police also said Gossels noticed an open box of Corona beer in the back seat.

Pouha had glassy eyes and a blank stare, according to police and was unable to speak clearly. He also appeared to be speaking to someone who wasn't there, police say.

Gossels asked Pouha to step out of the car.

Pouha allegedly stared blankly for about 45 seconds before obeying the officer's request. Then, police say Pouha tried to make a run for it.

Pouha allegedly pushed another officer, C. Stimpson, out of his way. After issuing a warning about using a stun gun, officers deployed a Taser, and Pouha fell to the ground.

According to a probable cause affidavit, two officers tried to handcuff Pouha. That's when the 6-foot, 250-pound suspect allegedly fought the two officers and pinned both of them to ground.

Bodycam footage allegedly shows that Pouha wrapped his arms around Stimpson. Police claim the officer could have suffocated during the incident.

Pouha allegedly attempted to grab the stun gun from the officer, but Stimpson was able to punch free. Gossels regained the stun gun and used it on Pouha a second time.

The officers found Gabapentin, an anti-epileptic drug, hidden in Pouha's socks, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Pouha faces felony charges of assaulting an officer and disarming an officer and eight misdemeanors, including DUI.

Pouha was on probation for aggravated sexual assault at the time of the incident.

This story was originally published by Matthew Brooks on KSTU in Salt Lake City.