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Pot issue possible in Lynch case Gun charge main problem for Bills star at present

Gun charges may not be the only legal entanglement for Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch.

The Culver City (Calif.) Police Department said Wednesday that marijuana was discovered in the 2006 Mercedes-Benz that Lynch and two other men occupied last week when he was arrested on possession of a loaded firearm in public.

According to officers on the scene, the car was approached because it was still running while parked and didn't have proper license plates.

"The officers said they knocked on the window of the car and someone unrolled the window. They identified three people in the car and there was the smell of marijuana coming from the car," police Capt. Dave Tankenson said. "The officers had the occupants exit the car so they could further investigate to see if there was any marijuana in the car. What they found were four, not marijuana cigarettes, but what they call blunts or swisher sweets that appeared to contain marijuana in them."

According to Tankenson, the officers did not know who was smoking marijuana or who it belonged to. No drug charges were filed.

Tankenson said the loaded gun was found during the search, and the officers determined the weapon, which is not registered, belonged to Lynch.

Meanwhile, Culver City police expect Lynch to be formally charged with possessing a loaded firearm in public by the end of the week. The case is now in the hands of the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which will decide whether probable cause exists to file a formal complaint against Lynch.

"Having reviewed the report, I think there is more than enough reason to believe that will happen," said Culver City police Lt. Dean Williams. "But it is [the district attorney's] decision." Williams added that the marijuana is a separate issue from the gun charge.

"Lynch was arrested for the possession of the gun, and that's what he will likely be charged with," Williams said. "All of the other issues are off the table right now because decisions have to be made in regards to the other parties in the car."

Williams described Lynch's arrest as "run of the mill, routine" for Culver City, an affluent section of Los Angeles where Sony Pictures (formerly MGM Studios) is located. He said the local police have arrested numerous sports figures and celebrities on a variety of charges.

Williams added that the first two officers on the scene didn't know who Lynch was until a third officer arrived and identified him. Williams insists Lynch wasn't targeted because he's African-American or because he and his companions were sitting in an expensive car.

"A Mercedes-Benz is a dime a dozen around here," Williams said. "We wouldn't arrest someone if we didn't believe it was justified. Knowing these officers and having read the report, I think the district attorney is going to file this case without blinking an eye."

Lynch's California-based lawyer, M. Gerald Schwartzbach, wouldn't go into details of the case because he has yet to see a copy of the police report.

Schwartzbach is, however, dismayed by the Culver City Police Department's decision to release information on the case.

"I'm not certain what would be the motivation for somebody to release that information when they are not providing a police report to Marshawn's attorney," Schwartzbach said. "He wasn't arrested for [marijuana], and I don't anticipate him being charged for it."

The Bills and NFL are declining to comment while the legal process continues. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has taken a tough stance on repeat offenders.

Lynch was involved in a hit-and-run on Chippewa Street in May and didn't admit being the driver until several weeks later. He eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and paid a $100 fine. As a result of the latest issue, Lynch could face a multigame suspension for violating the NFL's player conduct policy.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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