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WESTERLY — A Westerly man is facing charges after the police said officers conducting a traffic stop found him in possession of a loaded 9-mm handgun that was tucked in his waistband.

The man, 56-year-old Richard Whyte, was charged Sunday afternoon with possession of a controlled substance and failure to obtain license or permit required to carry. He was also cited with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

Westerly police said an officer was traveling northbound along Route 1 in the left lane when Whyte passed him on the right. The officer watched as Whyte suddenly slowed and attempted to pull behind him, the police said. The officer was finally able to pull Whyte over near Stenton Avenue.

The officer approached the car and immediately smelled a strong odor of marijuana, according to a police report. The officer checked Whyte’s license and registration and learned that it had expired in Connecticut.

Police said at this point, the officer realized that Whyte had a firearm and asked him to remove it. Whyte complied, taking a Kimber Micro 9 KHX out of his waistband. The police said it was not in a holder, was loaded with a bullet in the chamber and had a full magazine. The police said the hammer was also cocked back, which would have made the gun easy to shoot, and there was no holster.

“It is a very dangerous way to be handling a gun. Any small shift in the trigger and he could have shot himself or someone else,” Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said.

Lacey said that further investigation determined that he had previously acquired a permit in Connecticut, which is active until 2023. He had moved to Westerly six months ago, however, and did not obtain the proper permits to carry the handgun in Rhode Island.

The police also found 4.5 grams of hash and a small amount of marijuana. 

Court information regarding Whyte’s case was not available online as of Wednesday.

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