Inkster lawmaker faces charges of drunken driving, resisting police

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

A Democratic Inkster lawmaker arrested after a crash on Interstate 96 last week was arraigned Friday on several charges, including reckless driving as well as resisting and obstructing police. 

State Rep. Jewell Jones, 26, was charged with four counts of resisting and obstructing a police officer, operating a vehicle with a high blood alcohol content and operating while intoxicated, reckless driving and possession of a weapon while under the influence of alcohol, according to a statement by Livingston County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Carolyn Henry. 

Each of the resisting and obstructing charges carries a maximum penalty of two years of incarceration, while operating with a high blood alcohol content carries a 180 day sentence, Henry said in a statement. The other charges each carry a 93 day jail sentence. 

Under Michigan law, operating a vehicle with a high blood alcohol content is used when an individual has a blood alcohol content alleged to be higher than 0.17. Operating while intoxicated is used when an individual is alleged to have had a blood alcohol content higher than 0.08.

"These charges are accusations against Rep. Jones," his lawyer Ali Hammoud said in a statement Friday. "He is presumed innocent and remains so unless and until proven guilty in a court of law."

Jones will continue to serve his district, Hammoud said.

At the arraignment, Henry told the court that police received several calls about Jones' driving prior to him driving his vehicle into a ditch along I-96. 

When medics attempted to treat Jones' passenger, Jones became "confrontational" with paramedics and attempted to use his " 'status of importance' as he put it," she said. 

When police were dispatched to the scene, Jones continued to be confrontational and was "flashing badges" at police rather than the identification they had asked for, Henry said. Troopers eventually had to "Tase and pepper spray," she said. 

The prosecutor asked that Magistrate Jerry Sherwood prohibit Jones, an auxiliary police officer for Inkster, from possessing any weapons while on bond, noting he had a semi-automatic Glock in the cupholder of his vehicle at the time of the crash. 

The judge set Jones' bond at $15,000 personal recognizance on the condition that he is prohibited from alcohol, bars, illegal drugs and weapons possession except for what is needed when he is on National Guard Duty.

Rep. Jewell Jones, D-Inkster, receives a hug from Rep. Cynthia Johnson, D-Detroit, during a rally at the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.

Jones declined to comment earlier this week when asked about his arrest. On Friday, the lawmaker responded to a reporter's text seeking comment with a GIF of Oprah Winfrey before referring questions to his lawyer. 

Hammoud said he would issue a statement later Friday.

House Democratic Leader Rep. Donna Lasinski, D-Scio Township, issued a statement Friday saying the allegations against Jones were "serious charges."

"It’s important to let the investigation proceed and the legal process play out so all the facts can come to light,” Lasinski said.

The allegations "continue to be very disappointing for an elected community leader," said Gideon D'Assandro, a spokesman for House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell. 

"The speaker is speaking to Leader Lasinski and working with her on how to handle the situation as it moves forward," Wentworth said.

When asked about Jones' arrest last week, Michigan State Police said Brighton Post troopers had responded to a crash April 6 along I-96 and arrested an Inkster man. Jones was held in jail overnight and released the next day, pending lab results. 

Livingston County prosecutors said at the time they were continuing their investigation into the crash.

Jones is serving his third term in the Michigan House. A member of the National Guard and Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps, Jones is Democratic vice chairman of the House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee.

Jones faced a misdemeanor charge of driving with open intoxicants and traffic violations related to speeding and window tint connected to a May 2018 traffic stop along Interstate 94. 

Michigan State Police said at the time that Jones and his passengers were sober. 

The open intoxicant charge was dismissed later that year, but Jones paid about $400 in fines for speeding and his tinted windshield.