The 911 calls came pouring in as the black Chevy Tahoe sped down a Michigan highway.
For almost 50 miles, witnesses reported, the vehicle with the vanity plate “ELECTED” was driving so recklessly earlier this month that at least one person saw the car go the wrong way before it rolled into a ditch.
Inside the Chevy, state police found state Representative Jewell Jones, whose blood alcohol level was allegedly more than double the legal limit. In the cupholder behind him was semiautomatic handgun.
“If you hit me, it’s going to be very bad for you. I’ll call Governor [Gretchen] Whitmer right now,” MrJones told the officers on 6 April, according a police report obtained by the Detroit Free Press and other local media. “When I call Gretchen,” he allegedly continued, they would have to hand off their “IDs, badge numbers, everything.”
The third-term lawmaker is now facing eight charges, according to MLive.com, including four counts of resisting police and one for operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.17.
Neither Mr Jones nor his attorney, Ali Hammoud, immediately responded to a request for comment from The Washington Post late on Wednesday. Following an arraignment last week, Mr Hammoud noted that Mr Jones is an auxiliary police officer and a deacon in his church and said he “will continue to faithfully serve” his constituents, according to the Free Press.
In 2015, just two years out of high school, Mr Jones was elected to the city council in his hometown of Inkster, a suburb of Detroit. Barely a year later, the 21-year-old college student ascended to the Michigan Capitol.
A member of the Michigan National Guard, he rose to become vice-chair of the chamber’s Committee on the Military, Veterans, and Homeland Security. In 2019, he was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, appearing alongside Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and gun-control activists David Hogg and Emma González.
“I didn’t run for office just to be the youngest representative in the state’s history,” he said in a news release that year. “I ran because I wanted to be a part of forging a brighter future for the people of Michigan.”
Mr Jones, who is term-limited in next year’s election, faced a misdemeanor charge in July 2018 after police said they found open alcohol in his car during a traffic stop. That charge was soon dismissed, MLive.com reported.
When he again came into contact with police on 6 April after rolling into a ditch off the shoulder of Interstate 96, the interaction proved to be far more chaotic.
Mr Jones allegedly threatened the Michigan state troopers by telling them he oversaw their agency’s finances. When officers asked for an ID, he tried to show a badge and then shook his arms “as if he were about to do something,” the reports said.
“It’s not going to be good for you, I run y’all budget, bro,” he told them, according to The News.
After an ambulance arrived to transport an unidentified passenger who had been riding alongside him, Mr Jones tried to push the first responders and climb inside their vehicle, The Detroit News reported.
The troopers said in the report that they attempted twice to use a taser on Mr Jones and then aimed pepper spray at his eyes to get him in handcuffs. He was then transported to jail in Livingston County, Michigan, where he spent the night.
Because Mr Jones refused to take a breathalyser test at the scene, police obtained a warrant to draw his blood before his release the following day. (The test showed a blood alcohol content of 0.19 per cent, The Free Press reported; a limit of 0.08 per cent is needed to convict someone of drunken driving.)
On Friday, a district court judge released Mr Jones on recognisance, instructing him to stay away from alcohol and drugs and to submit to random substance testing.
While state House leaders have not made any decisions about whether he will be disciplined, according to The Free Press, Mr Jones appears to be taking it all in stride.
“This last week has literally been the craziest week I’ve ever had in my last as a civilian,” he wrote on Facebook on 11 April, alongside a brief video from a birthday celebration.
The Washington Post
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