Athens Clarke-County police report details James Cook’s traffic stop, charges

Georgia football-Athens police-Tyler Simmons
Details on James Cook's traffic stop, charges come out in Athens-Clarke County police report

ATHENS — James Cook was charged with driving without a valid license and possession of an open container of alcoholic beverage in the passenger area last weekend.

The Georgia tailback was driving in downtown Athens with an unsealed bottle of brandy in his car and a handgun in the glove compartment when pulled over at 12:44 a.m. on Saturday, per a police report.

The Athens-Clarke County Police Department report provided details of the traffic stop that led to Cook being handcuffed and booked at 1:46 a.m. Cook was released at 2:57 a.m. on Saturday after posting $1,000 bond on each of the misdemeanor charges.

UGA junior offensive lineman Justin Shaffer was riding with Cook during the stop.

Shaffer alerted the officers to the Glock 19 handgun in the glove compartment, claiming it as his own, and also said the unsealed bottle of alcohol found during the vehicle search belonged to him.

Shaffer was not charged with anything.

The search was prompted when officers noted the smell of burnt marijuana upon approaching the car and questioned Cook. According to the police report, Cook “informed me there wasn’t any more in the car because he smoked it.”

Officers had initiated the traffic stop after a sequence that began with them pulling behind the vehicle Cook was driving on Clayton Street, a 2017 Dodge Charger, to check the expiration date on the dealer tag.

“The Dodge then immediately maneuvered into the middle travel lane,” the report states, arousing suspicion, “as though the driver was attempting to evade” a closer check of the tag. Cook then pulled into a handicap parking space, and when the officers’ tag check indicated insurance was unknown, the squad car’s lights went on and the traffic stop commenced.

The players exited the Dodge, leading the officers to order them back into the car.

Cook told the officer that he did not have his driver’s license on him, and a computer check of his Florida driver’s license revealed it was invalid, per the police report.

“Due to the smell of burnt marijuana within the vehicle, marijuana shake (residue) observed on he center console, and Cook admitting to smoking marijuana,” the police report states, the players and the car were searched.

An unsealed 1.75 liter bolt of Hennessey Cognac was found behind the driver’s seat of the vehicle.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart has not commented on the incident.

The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs are beginning preparation for their Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl game against Baylor this week.

Cook started three games the season and played in all 13.  The 5-foot-11, 197-pound sophomore from Miami is considered one of the most dynamic and valuable players expected to return to the team.

Shaffer, who was not charged with anything, started two games and played in six before suffering a season-ending neck injury in the 20-17 loss to South Carolina.


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