Joseph Patrick Zara, 62, was arrested after a traffic stop in Oceanside, because police noticed he had a “billy club” resting within reach, on the backseat of his car. However, his attorney protested that it was not a weapon, but instead the wooden stick was a tire knocker.
“Honestly, I never heard of a tire knocker,” judge Blaine Bowman spoke frankly during a hearing today, Tuesday, February 5.
Oceanside police officer Kekai Thompson testified that he pulled over the wandering car at dusk on October 13, 2018, because the car failed to stay in one lane. Zara was the driver and only occupant in the car as it was traveling the 3700 block of Mission Avenue. Officer Thompson said Zara was polite and produced an American passport for ID, and admitted that he had no driver’s license.
The 18-inch-billy club was in plain sight. And cops found two firearms in his trunk, which were legally purchased and properly stored, officer Thompson said.
Defense attorney Jeremy Burland protested that the wooden stick was clearly labled Mighty Max Tire Thumper. The attorney asserted that the object is commonly used as a fish thumper, especially in the state from which the defendant had recently moved, Louisiana.
A prosecutor admitted that Zara does not have any crimes of violence in his past, though he has a recent DUI from Louisiana. The prosecutor said a urine test showed that Zara had drugs in his system while he was driving, that he was under the influence of meth and heroin and xanax; she also claimed that Zara nodded off and was awakened by officers several times during their contact.
Judge Bowman granted defense’s request to reduce the felony charge of possession of billy club to a misdemeanor, and set a date in March for another hearing. Defendant Zara pleads not guilty, and is at liberty on $50,000 bond.