Police report: UNC's Hairston switched drivers before checkpoint, got Yukon from 'Fats' Thomas

dkane@newsobserver.com acarter@newsobserver.com lkeeley@newsobserver.comJuly 12, 2013 

  • Excerpts from the Durham police narrative describing the arrest and interview of P.J. Hairston:

    • “...Mr. Hairston stated as he was driving down Holloway Street, when he observed the road block. Mr. Hairston then stated that he could not find his driver’s license. Mr. Hairston then stated that he then woke up Mr. Faulcon, who was sleeping in the front passenger seat. Mr. Hairston stated that he does have a valid driver’s license. Mr. Hairston then stated that while he was stopped, he switched spots with Mr. Faulcon.”

    • “...Mr. Hairston stated that he does not smoke marijuana. Corporal Navarre asked when was the last time he smoked marijuana and Mr. Hairston stated it was about two weeks ago...Mr. Hairston stated that he does not smoke marijuana to get high, but he will take a “hit” or two occasionally.”

    • “...Corporal Navarre asked Mr. Hairston about the vehicle. Mr. Hairston stated that he received the vehicle sometime around 1900 hours. Mr. Hairston then stated that an unknown male, only known as “Fatts,” rented the vehicle for him. Mr. Hairston stated that “Fatts” rented vehicle for Mr. Hairston because he was planning on traveling to Atlanta this weekend to see some friends.”

    • “...Corporal Navarre asked Mr. Hairston if he could smell marijuana inside of the vehicle and he originally said “no.” Mr. Hairston then stated as they were on the way to Mr. Sanford’s house, he could smell small hints of marijuana. Corporal Navarre then asked Mr. Hairston if he threw anything out of the vehicle prior to arriving (at) the check point and he said “no.” Mr. Hairston then stated that he did not observe anyone throwing anything out of the vehicle prior to arriving at the check point.

    • “Corporal Navarre then asked Mr. Hairston if there was anything else that he wanted to add to his side of the story and he said “no.” At this time, Corporal Navarre believed that Mr. Hairston was not being completely truthful. ... Mr. Hairston stated that he had told Corporal Navarre the truth.”

A detailed police report into the traffic stop and arrest of UNC basketball star P.J. Hairston says that he switched places with a passenger to try to avoid a citation of driving without a license, admitted to being a “recreational” marijuana user and had been given the rental car that he was driving to go to Atlanta and see friends.

The new details raise more questions about Hairston’s standing with the basketball program, which is currently reviewing the situation. The details also counter claims by the Durham man who had rented the car, Haydn “Fats” Thomas, who had told reporters he did not give the 2013 GMC Yukon to Hairston but to another man in the car.

Thomas is a convicted felon with a lengthy criminal record; Hairston had also been stopped for a speeding ticket in a second rental vehicle, a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro, that is linked to Thomas.

Police found two bags with small amounts of marijuana in the car and a 9 mm handgun and marijuana along the street where the car had stopped about 75 yards shy of a vehicle checkpoint set up by Durham police the night of June 5. The car had a strong odor of burned marijuana, but Hairston denied using any that evening.

Police charged Hairston, 20, of Greensboro, with misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license.

The narrative report, obtained by The News & Observer, has not been released publicly by Durham police, but an official there confirmed it was authentic. The lieutenant, Brian Reitz, executive officer to Chief Jose Lopez, said he had no comment about the case other than to say no additional charges would be filed.

Hairston would be a junior this fall. The 6-5 guard led the team in scoring last season.

The arrest, coupled with Thomas providing at least one rental car to Hairston, creates potential NCAA problems for Hairston and UNC. NCAA regulations generally prohibit athletes from receiving benefits from anyone beyond family and previously established friends.

A vehicle from ‘Fats’

According to the report, the Yukon caught a police officer’s attention when it stopped ahead of the checkpoint, which was in a section east of downtown Durham that has long struggled with criminal activity. Corporal Thomas Navarre used a flashlight to signal to the driver to continue to the checkpoint.

Hairston told police he had been driving the car, but when he saw the checkpoint he realized he could not find his drivers license. He woke up Miykael Faulcon, a friend who was in the passenger seat. Faulcon, 20, of Durham, is a basketball player for Elizabeth City State University.

“Mr. Hairston then stated that while he was stopped, he switched spots with Mr. Faulcon,” the report said. “Mr. Hairston then stated that they then drove up to the license check point.”

Hairston denied using marijuana that day, and at first told police he does not smoke marijuana. Navarre then asked when was the last time Hairston smoked marijuana, and Hairston “stated it was about two weeks ago.”

“Mr. Hairston stated that he does not smoke marijuana on a regular basis, however, he is a recreational smoker,” the report said. “Mr. Hairston stated that he does not smoke marijuana to get high, but he will take a ‘hit’ or two occasionally.”

Hairston said he had received the vehicle two hours before the traffic stop from a man he identified as “Fatts.”

“Mr. Hairston stated that ‘Fatts’ rented the vehicle for Mr. Hairston because he was planning on traveling to Atlanta this weekend to see some friends,” the report said.

Thomas told USA Today in an interview last week that he doesn’t know Hairston, but he told The N&O later that he knows UNC athletes through parties. He could not be reached. The Yukon and other vehicles Thomas has rented have turned up on UNC’s campus, a parking ticket database shows.

Faulcon, another man in the vehicle, Carlos Devone Sanford, 23, of Durham, and three others had planned to travel to Atlanta in the Yukon, a large SUV.

The day before the arrest, Hairston’s Twitter account reported: “My first time going to ATL with my boys instead any sort of basketball, this is gone be fun!”

No charges involving gun

Hairston told police there was nothing in the vehicle when he picked it up. He had even checked the glove box to make sure.

He at first said he didn’t notice a smell of marijuana, but then acknowledged he smelled “small hints” of it as he and Faulcon went to pick up Sanford. He denied throwing anything out of the car prior to the checkpoint, nor did he see Faulcon or Sanford tossing anything out.

“At this time, Corporal Navarre believed that Mr. Hairston was not being completely truthful,” the report said. Navarre “explained to Mr. Hairston that he believed (Hairston) was not being completely truthful and offered him a chance to amend his statement. Mr. Hairston stated that he had told Corporal Navarre the truth.”

Sanford told police that Hairston had picked him up at about 7 p.m. and then the three men ate at a Japanese restaurant in Chapel Hill. They then went to the home of a friend that Hairston had identified to police as teammate Reggie Bullock, who was recently drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers. Bullock wasn’t home, so they called some friends and planned to meet one of them at a home in Durham to then go and celebrate someone’s birthday.

Sanford told Navarre he had smoked marijuana earlier in the day at his house, but he did not have any on him when police stopped the car. He also said he did not smell marijuana in the car because he had smoked his “hookah,” a small pipe, earlier in the day.

Navarre said he told Sanford he also did not find him to be “completely truthful.” Sanford then added that police had been at his house on Delano Street “the other day” looking for guns. The report did not say whether they found any.

Faulcon told police he had switched seats with Hairston before they drove to the check point. He said he could smell marijuana in the vehicle, but he denied throwing anything out of the vehicle.

“Mr. Faulcon stated that the gun did not belong to anyone,” the report said. It is unclear who owns the gun. No weapons charges have been filed.

Navarre said he didn’t think Faulcon was being completely truthful either, but Faulcon said he was telling the truth. He and Sanford were also charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Kane: 919-829-4861

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