Police body cam shows Midland County sheriff 'super drunk,' asked to avoid arrest

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KALKASKA COUNTY (WJRT) (12/17/2018) - The police report and body camera footage from the Nov. 16 arrest of Midland County Sheriff Scott Stephenson shed new light on his drunken driving case.

Midland County Sheriff Scott Stephenson performs a field sobriety test along M-66 in Kalkaska County on Nov. 16.

Stephenson blew a 0.23 percent blood alcohol level on a preliminary breath test at the scene, nearly three times Michigan's 0.08 percent legal limit for drunken driving.

The incident started in the afternoon of Nov. 16, when a passerby reported seeing Stephenson's car stopped along M-66 near Lund Road south of Kalkaska. VanSloten responded to investigate.

Body camera footage from Kalkaska County sheriff's deputy Ashley VanSloten shows him asleep behind the wheel of his county-owned car.

"Sir, you need to wake up and talk to me," she is heard saying as she knocks on Stephenson's window.

It took a little time, but Stephenson woke up and spoke with the deputy.

"My dispatcher called. Someone thought you were dead over here," VanSloten told him.

Stephenson told the deputy he was on a deer hunting trip and had been driving from Gladwin County. He admitted he had been drinking earlier in the day.

Stephenson has said he left the deer camp after drinking to seek higher ground so he could make a cell phone call. But while driving, he said he felt the effects of alcohol taking hold so he pulled over.

The video and audio recording indicates that once an EMS crew arrived, Stephenson became aware of the severity of the situation and told the deputy this.

"I'm the (expletive) Midland County sheriff," he could be heard telling her on the video.

He told the deputy he had a bad day.

A short time later, Garfield Township Police Chief Jerry Cannon arrived on the scene. Cannon is the former sheriff of Kalkaska County and an acquaintance of Stephenson.

Cannon can be heard talking to the deputy and Stephenson.

"I could take responsibility for him. I know you have to do what you have to do," he told VanSloten.

That interaction came before field sobriety tests were performed. The police report shows Stephenson had trouble with the tests. He worried he wouldn't pass a preliminary breath test.

Stephenson can be heard asking the two not to arrest him.

"Jesus Christ, I'm a sheriff. I'm a constitutional (expletive) officer. You can't take me to (expletive) jail. I'm a goddam sheriff," he told Cannon and VanSloten on the video.

The breathlyzer test showed Stephenson's reading came in at 0.23 percent, above Michigan's super drunk limit of 0.17 percent.

Stephenson again asked VanSloten and Cannon to not place him under arrest. Cannon made a phone call to an unidentified person, walked away for a bit, but eventually came back saying Stephenson had to go to jail.

Stephenson apologized to VanSloten for putting her in a difficult position and she could be heard several times saying she was sorry, but there was nothing she nor Cannon could do.

"It was called in. It's over the radio," VanSloten told Stephenson.

In the end, Stephenson was arrested and taken to the Kalkaska County Jail.

"I made a poor choice. I drank too much today," he told VanSloten and Cannon.

"You own it and people will understand," Cannon responded.

Stephenson pleaded guilty last Thursday to operating a motor vehicle while visibly impaired. He was placed on probation for a year and fined.

While Stephenson has apologized to the pubic for what happened, he has no plans to resign as a result of the incident. However, he decided before the incident not to seek re-election when his term expires in 2020.