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A suspected drug dealer from Boston is facing an assault charge after he allegedly bit a police officer’s thumb while being booked at a downtown station Tuesday, police said.

Officers assigned to a drug unit picked up James Turner, 31, in the area of Chinatown Park after they observed him twirling a plastic bag containing what police believed to be illicit drugs, according to a department statement.

When officers tried to approach Turner, he stuffed several small individually-wrapped plastic bags, which authorities believed contained heroin, into his mouth, police said. Police were able to recover two of the bags; one of them fell to the ground and the other Turner held in his hand, according to the police statement.

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Turner resisted arrest and fought with the officers, police said. Police were eventually able to subdue him and took him to the District A-1 police station downtown for booking. At the station, Turner spit at police and bit the thumb of one of the officers.

Police said Turner explained his behavior by stating, “He got too close so I bit him.”

A golf ball-sized bag that contained 29 smaller plastic baggies of crack cocaine was found on Turner at the booking desk, police said.

Turner now faces charges of possession with intent to distribute heroin, resisting arrest, assault and battery on a police officer, and trafficking crack cocaine.


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.