For Dustin Singleton, a 35-year-old resident of Palm Coast’s LL Section who’d gotten off parole two and a half years ago, it all started again with speeding: going 40 in a 30. It turned into an arrest for a small amount of marijuana. Then a probation violation: traces of marijuana turned up in a subsequent urine test. He was sentenced to a month at the county jail, still on a misdemeanor charge.
Tuesday evening, it became a second degree felony when he was accused of “instigating a riot,” because he and nine other inmates allegedly refused to go to their bunks, yelled obscenities at guards and made some demands.
An initial traffic stop that turned into an arrest and a brief probation conviction has now turned into a potential prison sentence of 15 years. All from going 10 miles over the sleep limit and having a few leaves of pot in an Altoid box.
Singleton, who describes himself as a tattoo artist on his LinkedIn page and is black—blacks are 31 percent more likely to be pulled over for minor traffic infractions than whites, federal statistics show—was pulled over the afternoon of March 27 for going 40 in a 30 near the intersection of Lloyd Trail and Lloleeta Path in Palm Coast. He didn’t have a valid driver’s license and was cited for it, but that charge was later dropped. He was given a verbal warning for speeding.
During the traffic stop, the deputy “smelled a stroing odor of marijuana in the vehicle,” according to Singleton’s arrest report. Singleton admitted to having a “clip” of marijuana in an Altoid box in the passenger-side door. He was booked at the Flagler County jail on a count of marijuana possession, under 20 grams, a first-degree misdemeanor.
He posted bail on $500 bond and was released. He pleaded no contest and on Aug. 13 was sentenced to six months’ probation and 25 hours of community service, unless he chose to pay off the 25 days with a fine.
Part of his probation entailed urine tests. Singleton took one on Oct. 2. He failed it. The sample came back positive for THC, the active ingredient in pot. A warrant was issued for his arrest. Eleven days later a deputy saw Singleton’s pick-up truck “weaving within its own lane from left to right.” The vehicle crossed the dotted lane divider line—once. That prompted a traffic stop “to investigate whether the driver was impaired,” the deputy wrote in the arrest report.
Singleton was not impaired, and the deputy concluded that no law was broken, attributing what weaving was observed to the type of wheels on the vehicle. But the traffic stop brought up the warrant. Singleton—who recorded the encounter on his cell phone–was arrested on the probation violation.
Nine days ago (on Oct. 20), before County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens, Singleton was sentenced to 30 days at the county jail for the probation violation after Singleton admitted to the violation and waived counsel. At that point, he was still guilty of a misdemeanor.
The incidents that led to the more serious charge are sketchy. The charge is not: rioting or causing a mutiny at a state correctional institution, a second-degree felony.
Singleton’s arrest report states that Tuesday evening at the county jail, he was given “specific orders” by two deputies to “remain seated on his bunk in accordance with the lockdown status that the entire housing unit was placed on.” Singleton allegedly refused the orders and “corroborated with nine other inmates to pack up their individual belongings and sit and remain in the housing unit dayroom in defiance with the orders” given Singleton.
Singleton allegedly “did also participate in the yelling of obscenities and demands directed toward” jail staff, “causing the summons of additional staff members to respond to the riotous disturbance.”
Singleton was removed from the general population—the arrest report does not detail how—and placed in “disciplinary confinement” pending criminal charges. His bond on that charge was set at $5,000. His felony arraignment is set for the morning of Nov. 23. He has yet to secure or be assigned an attorney.