Details of Suellentrop arrest show a BAC of twice the legal limit

Kansas Senate Majority Leader, Gene Suellentrop (R). (March 17, 2021)
Kansas Senate Majority Leader, Gene Suellentrop (R). (March 17, 2021)(WIBW)
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 12:12 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - New information about what led to the arrest of Senator Gene Suellentrop in March for a DUI has been released to 13 NEWS.

Kansas Highway Patrol Officer Austin Shepley, who wrote the probable cause affidavit for Sen. Suelletrop’s case, says Suellentrop, 69, just before 1 a.m. on March 16, barely missed multiple vehicles while driving down the wrong side of I-70. He said Suellentrop was going 90 miles per hour.

According to Shepley, Suellentrop’s speed varied from 30 to 90 miles per hour. He said at the 3rd St. exit on I-70, Suellentrop hit the solid yellow divider with his tires and continued to pass a box truck. He said while on the curve of the viaduct, he used his right turn signal and while on the 4th St. bridge, approached two vehicles and almost collided with an SUV.

In order to end the chase, Shepley said attempted Tactical Vehicle Interventions with the Topeka Police Department. He said the first was unsuccessful, but the second was effective when Suellentrop’s vehicle almost hit the center barrier wall. He said he then exited his patrol vehicle with his pistol drawn and attempted to give Suellentrop commands, to which he did not respond.

Shepley said Suellentrop’s left hand was hanging out of the window, so he decided to approach the vehicle. He said as he approached, Suellentrop looked confused and frightened and had a blank stare. He said the Wichita area Senator was not registering or responding to commands.

According to Shepley, he holstered his weapon and approached Suellentrop’s window. He said he reached in to unlock the driver’s side door and could smell the stench of alcohol. He said he instructed Suellentrop to exit his vehicle multiple times, to which he did not respond. He said as he attempted to remove the Senator from the vehicle, a Topeka Police Officer attempted to help.

Once out of the vehicle, Shepley said Suellentrop was put in double-hinged handcuffs, searched for weapons and placed in his patrol vehicle. He said in the patrol vehicle he could smell a strong stench of alcohol coming from Suellentrop and noticed that his eyes were watery, droopy and had bloodshot eyes. He said while speaking to Suellentrop, he could not understand his mumbling and slurred speech.

At the Docking Building, Shepley said he instructed Suellentrop to exit the patrol vehicle and lost balance, almost falling over. He said Suellentrop struggled with his balance on their way to the intoxlyzer room, where he was asked to sit and almost missed the chair.

Once in the intoxlyzer room, Shepley said Suellentrop declined a breathalyzer test saying, “I don’t feel the need to do so.”

Shepley said he submitted a search warrant to get a blood sample from Suellentrop, which was approved. He said the pair then went to Stormont Vail for the blood sample, which revealed a blood alcohol content of 0.17, which is twice the legal limit.

“I am deeply troubled by the latest details that have emerged surrounding Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop’s arrest. I thank God that no one was hurt by his extremely reckless and dangerous actions,” said Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes. “While Senator Suellentrop deserves due process and appropriate consequences for his irresponsible behavior, he also deserves to be held to the same level of accountability as the Kansans he has been elected to represent. I am disappointed that he has not come to this conclusion himself.”

“After having had a chance to review the affidavit, we reiterate our previous statement that the underlying incident is very serious, and we are thankful that no one was injured,” said Senate President Ty Masterson. “While we continue to respect due process, there are many aspects of the alleged behavior that are deeply disappointing, and severe consequences will be unavoidable. With just a few days in the session remaining, we will finish up our work with Senator Larry Alley fulfilling the duties of the majority leader. Any decisions regarding the future will be made in due course.”

Shepley also said he received two witness statements from drivers that saw Suellentrop drive the opposite way down I-70.

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