Heavyweight boxing champion Leon Spinks was released on $6,000 bond yesterday after he was charged with felony possession of cocaine and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He also was charged with two driving offenses.
Spinks, 24, and a 26-year-old woman were arrested on the parking lot of fast food restaurant about 4 a.M. St. Louis police said the headlights on the car he was driving were out as it pulled into the lot.
He was released about 8 a.m. Formal charges were placed in the afternoon.
Police reported that when he was asked for his driver's license, Spinks replied. "Come on, you know who I am, I don't have one."
Spinks recently pleaded guilty to driving without a license and was fined $25. He is awaiting trial on a second charge of driving the wrong way on a one-way street.
Sgt. Francis Corona, one of yesterday's arresting officers, said that when he asked Spinks to get out of the car, the boxer tossed his hat onto the roof of the automobile.
After questioning Spinks, Corona said, the hat was handed back to Spinks, who tossed it onto the car's roof a second time. Corona said he examined the hat and found a small foil packet of white powder inside the hat-band.
Spinks was arrested and when he was searched police said they found a marijuana cigarette and a bag of marijuana. (The Associated Press said possession of cocaine could bring a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, a fine of $1,000, or both.)
Police said they found several packets of marijuana in the purse of Spinks' companion, Sharlean Gunn of St. Louis.She was booked on suspicion of possession of marijuana and interfering with a police officer. (Possession of marijuana could result in a maximum prison sentence of one year, a $1,000 fine, or both.)
Spinks, accompanied by an entourage that included attorneys and his first manager, Millard (Mitt) Barnes, arrived in Miami last night and said his rights had been violated.
"I didn't have no cocaine or marijuana," Spinks said, according to United Press International. Asked about the cocaine allegedly found in the hat. Spinks responded, "I didn't know nothing was there."
Asked in St. Louis if he thouhgt he was being harassed, Spinks had said, "No, not really." He said he would return for his court appearance May 5.
Corona said Gunn cursed police when they arrested Spinks. "You know, the usual routine," Corona said, "'If he was white, you wouldn't be arresting him."
"If she hadn't given us a hard time I imagine we would have simply given Spinks a traffic summons and not even bothered to look in his hat. He certainlu gave us no trouble."
Patrolman Stanley Mierzejewski described Spinks as "a little obstreperous" at first but said Spinks quickly settled down. "We hated to arrest him." Mierzejewski said.
Spinks was photographed in handcuffs after his March 19 arrest on traffic charges. The photograph resulted in complaints about arrest procedures. Police said at that time the handcuffing was "routine arrest procedure" and repeated the explanation after Spinks was handcuffed yesterday. Spinks was not available for comment.
Spinks grew up in a St. Louis housing project but he gave a Philadephia address yesterday.
In New York City, Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc., who is promoting Spinks first tittle defense, against former champion Muhammad Ali on Sept. 15 in New Orleans, said after conferring with Spinks' Detroit attorney, Ed Bell, "It appears to be a case of illegal search and seizure. We hope it is thrown out."
Arum was quoted by news services as saying, "This is the United States and a man is innocent until proven guilty. As far as I personally know, Leon does not use drugs. That's just absurd. He's marvelously conditioned athlete.
"There's something fishy going on."