Hearing for accused Inkster lawmaker pushed to June as attorney denies charges

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

State Rep. Jewell Jones won't appear before a judge for a preliminary examination for more than two months as his lawyer argues that Jones was mistreated by police during the April 6 incident that led to his arrest. 

Jones, D-Inkster, will next appear before Livingston County District Judge Daniel Bain on June 30 for a hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence for him to face trial on several charges including drunken driving and resisting and obstructing police. 

Jones' lawyer Ali Hammoud told The Detroit News on Sunday that his client should have never been arrested by police because reports of his "crash" were incorrect and there was no proof that Jones was intoxicated. 

"We believe the police used excessive force and Mr. Jones was mistreated in this incident," said Hammoud. "If this was not a Black man in Livingston County, he would have been in that ambulance and on his way to the hospital."

But police reports from the 26-year-old lawmaker's April 6 crash indicate that fellow drivers called 911 ahead of the incident along Interstate 96 near Fowlerville to report Jones' Chevy Tahoe with the license plate "ELECTED" was drifting in and out of lanes and along the rumble strip.

Eventually, he pulled off onto a shoulder and rolled into the ditch, witnesses told police. 

Both EMS and police, according to a police report, observed "multiple indicators of intoxication," including an alcoholic odor and slurred speech. His blood-alcohol level was later reported as being 0.19%, the report said. The legal limit is 0.08%.

According to an EMS interview included in the report, Jones attempted to interfere while they were loading his passenger into the ambulance and pushed an EMS employee in the chest and flashed his badge. 

Two Michigan State Police troopers who arrived at the scene said they attempted to get Jones to show his ID, but instead he tried to show a badge, threatened to call Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and remind them that he ran their budget, the police report said. 

Police took Jones to the ground after he failed repeatedly to comply and shook out his arms "as if he were about to do something," the report said.

While police attempted to get Jones into handcuffs, they deployed a stun gun twice before spraying Jones with pepper spray in the eyes, according to the police report. A loaded Glock was found in the cupholder of Jones' vehicle, the report said. 

On April 16, he was charged with four counts of resisting and obstructing a police officer; operating a vehicle with a high blood alcohol content; operating while intoxicated; reckless driving; and possession of a weapon while under the influence of alcohol.

A police video of Jones' arrest earlier this month begins with Jones behind an ambulance trying to persuade police to let him go to the hospital.

After his request was denied the video shows an officer asking for Jones' driver's license and registration multiple times before Jones says, "I can't do that." He is then wrestled to the ground. 

His Tahoe is not visible in the nearly 30-minute video of the April 6 arrest posted Friday to YouTube by the Michigan Information & Research Service.

"I'm already f---ing Black, y'all put me into f---ing cuffs before. ... Y'all really be f---ing harassing me," Jones says 20:28 minutes into the video. 

He also told police in the video, "I run you all's budget, bro" and "I'll call Gov. Whitmer right now," and indicated that he would get the troopers placed on "desk duty."

In a police car after his arrest, Jones told police to "tell Joe who you have handcuffed" in an apparent reference to Michigan State Police Director Col. Joe Gasper. 

"Let him know I would like to go home," he said.

Jones was arrested that day and housed in the Livingston County Jail overnight before he was released the next day pending lab results. 

Jones is serving his third term in the Michigan House. He is a member of the National Guard and Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and is an auxiliary officer in Inkster. In the Legislature, Jones is Democratic vice chairman of the House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee.