Warning: this article contains language you might consider offensive.
A Michigan sheriff accused of drunk driving allegedly asked a deputy not to arrest him because of his status as law enforcement. And the whole profanity-laced interaction was caught on body camera footage.
Midland County Sheriff Scott Stephenson was arrested on November 16 of this year. When asked to perform a breathalyzer test, he allegedly scored a 0.23 percent blood alcohol level–almost three times Michigan’s legal limit of 0.08 percent. Under Michigan law, anything over 0.17 percent is considered “super drunk” driving.
Footage culled from the body camera of Kalkaska County sheriff’s deputy Ashley VanSloten shows the man identified as Stephenson passed out behind the wheels of a car on snowy road. A county-owned car, to be exact.
“Sir, you need to wake up and talk to me,” the deputy says as she knocks on the window.
The man is slow to rise but eventually makes the effort.
“My dispatcher called. Someone thought you were dead over here,” VanSloten says.
After EMS crews arrive, the scene gets a bit more intense.
Stephenson appears to have trouble walking the line. And it takes multiple attempts for him to blow hard enough for the breathalyzer device to register. He finally supplies enough oxygen for the machine to work, however, audibly stunning both officers on the scene when the number appears.
“Jesus,” says Garfield Township Police Chief Jerry Cannon.
To which Stephenson replies:
Ah, shit, Jerry. Well, you know what, hey. Hey man. Jesus Christ I’m fucking praying. I know the situation in front of you and I fucking know it. Jerry. Jesus Christ. Give me a fucking–try to fucking help me out man. I can’t go to jail for fucking drunk driving. Are you fucking kidding?
Cannon, who is apparently a friend of Stephenson’s, can be heard off-camera trying to work something out with VanSloten.
“I could take responsibility for him. I know you have to do what you have to do,” he tells the sheriff’s deputy. Cannon later walks away to make a phone call. When he returns he tells the deputy that the sheriff has to be arrested.
VanSloten repeatedly apologizes to Stephenson and says that her hands are tied.
“It was called in. It’s over the radio,” she tells the sheriff.
At another point in the video, Stephenson appears to plead with the other officers not to take him in.
“Jesus Christ, I’m a sheriff. I’m a constitutional fucking officer. You can’t take me to fucking jail. I’m a goddamn sheriff,” he says. “I’m the fucking Midland County sheriff.”
Stephenson was arrested and led away in handcuffs. He would eventually plead guilty to operating a motor vehicle while visibly impaired.
According to the local ABC affiliate, the sheriff was later sentenced to one year probation and while he has not resigned–and has no plans to do so–he’s already decided against running for re-election in 2020.
[image via screengrab]