Thursday, September 23, 2021

Legislator to undergo mental health examination

Jewell Jones 
Michigan State Rep. Jewell Jones will remain in police custody awaiting a mental health evaluation requested by his attorney, former Inkster Mayor Byron Nolan.

Attorney Ali Hammound, who had represented Jones during  drunk driving, resisting arrest and contempt of court charges since April, withdrew as counsel  Friday morning. He told Livingston County Chief Judge Michael Hatty that his withdrawal was “due to a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship” and his withdrawal was in the best interest of both Jones and himself.

Nolan requested the mental health evaluation which was granted by Hatty who ordered Jones to remain in custody pending the findings of that examination.

Jones' latest court appearance was in response to charges of bringing a weapon into a county jail and attempting to escape custody where he had been remanded by Hatty on Tuesday. Those charges were levied at the 26-year-old, three-term state legislator as he was remanded to police custody for multiple violations of his bond conditions on four counts of drunk driving and resisting and obstructing arrest. Prosecutors charged him with contempt of court claiming he had tampered with a court ordered transdermal alcohol monitor after the device recorded at least three instances of increased blood alcohol on Sept. 3. Prosecutors allege that he attempted to tamper with the device Sept. 6 by forcing a folded sock beneath the monitor. 

Jones, who represents the 11th District which includes Inkster and parts of Garden City, Dearborn Heights, Livonia and Westland, entered a guilty plea on those charges and was remanded to police custody.

The original drunk driving charges occurred April 6 when Jones' Chevy Tahoe was located in a ditch by Livingston County officers after multiple 911 calls from motorists complaining of a vehicle with the license plate ELECTED driving erratically on I-96.  When officers approached the vehicle, Jones refused to provide identification at the scene and threatened officers with “calling Gretchen (Gov. Gretchen Whitmer)” and telling Michigan State Troopers who responded to the scene that he controlled their budget, implying retaliation. 

According to police reports, Jones' conduct became increasingly combative and argumentative as his female companion was treated by EMTs at the scene. She was transported as “unresponsive” to a local hospital. Jones was eventually pepper sprayed and tased by officers in attempts to secure his arrest, according to official reports of that incident during which a loaded Glock handgun was visible to officers atop the front seat console of the vehicle. Jones' blood alcohol at the time was recorded at 0.19, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.

During intake procedures at the jail last week as Jones changed into prison clothing, officers discovered a handcuff key taped to the bottom of his foot, resulting in the additional felony charges. The latest weapons charge is a four-year felony and the escape attempt charge could result in up to five years imprisonment.

Jones was arraigned on the added charges before Magistrate Jerry Sherwood last Wednesday and remanded to jail on $100,000 cash or surety bond. In a statement last week, Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy said Jones was an “embarrassment to all elected officials.” As a condition of his bond, he must also surrender any and all police equipment he may have in his possession as a member of the Inkster Police Reserve force.  He is also a member of the National Guard.

House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) removed Jones from all state House  committee assignments following the arraignment. In response, House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township) issued a prepared statement:

“Representative Jones is facing an increasing number of serious charges.  Our priority is providing him with the support he needs to meet these challenges and stay healthy. We are focused on ensuring Representative Jones has a fair pathway to accountability so we can move forward together.”

Jones was previously accused of bond violations claiming he lied to the court and to his attorneys about his whereabouts asserting that he was at National Guard training which prevented him from completing court-ordered drug and alcohol testing. He was recorded at legislative duties and in a social media post at Planet Fitness in Wayne while claiming to be at Camp Grayling. That violation resulted in a warning from the court and the order for the alcohol monitor. His next court appearance was for his failure to pay for the court-ordered monitor which resulted in a $1,000 fine and a caution from Hatty that any further violations of his bond would result in jail time.