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Deputy stops a man, a scuffle erupts, then his arrest

NEW PORT RICHEY — The deputy asked Eric Luhtanen if he had any weapons. Luhtanen said yes, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report, and he pulled two knives out of his pocket.

That's when a cigarette case fell out, popped open and revealed several plastic sandwich bags of Xanax and Roxicodone pills, the report said.

"What is that?" Luhtanen said, according to the report.

Then, authorities said, he dove for the bags, stuffed five or six of them in his mouth and started swallowing the prescription drugs.

The deputy ordered Luhtanen, 43, to spit out the pills. He wrestled Luhtanen to the ground, the report said, but Luhtanen covered his face and fought back, elbowing the deputy in the chest and struggling before he was jolted twice by a Taser. It took two deputies to subdue and handcuff Luhtanen.

But he already had swallowed the pills.

The deputy had stopped Luhtanen and his friend, Daniel Carr, about 3 a.m. Tuesday as they were walking on Peony Street. It's unclear what prompted the stop, but the deputy asked to see the men's IDs and patted them down for weapons.

Carr told deputies they were walking to Luhtanen's house to smoke marijuana.

By the end of the altercation, only one bag — containing half a Roxicodone pill — was left on the ground. A bottle with 16 Xanax pills was in Luhtanen's pocket, the report said, and a straw in the cigarette case tested positive for cocaine.

Luhtanen, 9026 Rye St. in New Port Richey, was charged with battery on an officer, tampering with evidence, resisting an officer with violence and four drug-related charges.

He was treated at Regional Medical Center at Bayonet Point before being transported to the Land O'Lakes jail, where he remained Wednesday in lieu of $26,150 bail.

Deputy stops a man, a scuffle erupts, then his arrest 07/07/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 9:14pm]
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