A city man charged with possessing an explosive device after a Charlottesville police bomb dog alerted on an item in his vehicle is scheduled for a November preliminary hearing.
But the man has said the device was an air pump left in the vehicle’s trunk by a car dealer.
Robert Jamal Pryor, 34, appeared Tuesday morning in city General District Court after being charged with possession of an explosive device, possession of marijuana, having expired registration and not having an valid inspection sticker following a Monday traffic stop.
Pryor said the device was simply an air pump that was left in the trunk of his car and had nothing to do with explosives.
He was not detained after being charged Monday evening and is not currently in custody. He has requested a court-appointed attorney.
The explosive device charge is a felony, the marijuana charge is a misdemeanor and the two vehicle-related charges are considered infractions, according to court records.
Pryor is slated for a 1 p.m. hearing on Nov. 7, at which time the evidence against him will be explained to a judge to determine if there is enough evidence of a crime to proceed with the case.
The charges stem from a traffic stop initiated when an officer noticed the car he was driving had expired plates and no valid inspection sticker. Police said they asked Pryor if they could search his car after officers reported a smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle.
During that search, officers found a cylindrical package and brought in the department’s new bomb-sniffing dog, Brewster, who alerted police that there could be explosive-related materials in the package. Police closed down the intersection at Locust Avenue and Sycamore Street, sought a search warrant for the vehicle and called Virginia State Police for help.
The state police explosive ordinance disposal team X-rayed the cylindrical item found in the car and decided to neutralize it by putting it in water and destroying it in a controlled explosion.
The device’s remnants have been sent to the state crime lab for investigation. State law permits prosecution of someone who possesses items that appear to be explosive devices.