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Press Release

Joplin Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Drugs, Firearm after Ramming into Police Vehicle

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Joplin, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court following an investigation in which he rammed into a police vehicle.


Michael L. Watson, 38, of Joplin, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark on Thursday, March 31, 2016, to 20 years in federal prison without parole. Watson was sentenced as an armed career offender due to his prior felony convictions.


On Aug. 27, 2015, Watson pleaded guilty to possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute and to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.


Watson was arrested on April 10, 2015, when a Joplin police officer contacted a vehicle that Watson was driving. The officer initially stopped a man walking out of the Sunrise Inn motel at 3600 Rangeline, and the man indicated that he was with the four occupants of a Nissan Sentra that was parked nearby. During the conversation, Watson, the driver, drove the Sentra with the three other occupants away from the motel. The officer returned to his patrol vehicle and began to back up in order to follow the Sentra. The Sentra collided with the passenger side of the patrol vehicle at a high rate of speed, which caused significant damage.


Watson got out of the car and fled on foot with the officer in pursuit. Watson stumbled and fell to the ground after he jumped over a fence. The officer caught up with him and, while Watson was on the ground, saw the loaded Ruger 9mm semi-automatic pistol in a holster on Watson’s right side. The officer also found a hard case in Watson’s left front pocket that contained 39.43 grams of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.


Watson has prior felony convictions for assaulting a law enforcement officer, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a chemical with intent to create a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and resisting a lawful stop.


This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nhan D. Nguyen. It was investigated by the Joplin, Mo., Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Updated April 1, 2016

Violent Crime