Pawhuska’s city attorney was set to appear Wednesday in Pawhuska Municipal Court for a driving under the influence of alcohol citation issued by the Pawhuska Police Department.
Following an Open Records Act request by the newspaper, the City of Pawhuska released police reports and a police video of a July 3 incident involving Jesse J. Worten III, 64. Worten was issued the citation following a chaotic scene, as documented by the police reports and video.
Records show that on July 3 at approximately 4:45 p.m., off-duty Pawhuska Assistant Chief of Police Chris Rumsey was in the front yard of his residence in the 1700 block of Leahy when he heard what sounded to be an accident. When he walked to the scene approximately one block away, Rumsey reportedly saw a vehicle that was half-way in the road and half-way in a yard.
Rumsey reportedly called police dispatch and then approached the vehicle when he recognized that Worten was in the driver’s seat.
According to the report, Worten told Rumsey, “I’m drunk,” and Rumsey observed Worten as having “very thick, slurred speech” and allegedly smelling of alcohol. The report also states that “Worten was slouched down in the driver seat and appeared to have trouble making eye contact and keeping his head up.”
Records show that after calling police dispatch to have an on-duty officer respond, Rumsey attempted
to get in contact with Pawhuska Police Chief Scott Laird as the alleged incident involved the city attorney. Laird, according to the report, was on vacation and was not immediately available to contact Rumsey.
Rumsey then called Pawhuska City Manager Paul McAlexander, who, reportedly, told officers to take Worten home rather than place him under arrest and that McAlexander would “worry about the situation on Monday.” According to the police report, Worten lives directly across the street from where the wreck occurred.
The reports show that Laird was able to get in contact with officers a short time later and officers told Laird that the city manager had told them to take Worten home. According to the report, Laird told the officers that McAlexander was not the police chief and that Worten should be arrested for driving under the influence.
In Laird’s report, he notes that he contacted McAlexander and advised him that “the situation put the Police Department in a bad light if we do not take action.” Laird wrote in the report that if he were on scene he would arrest Worten. The report claims McAlexander told Laird “we couldn’t do that to our city attorney.”
According to a “body cam” video, which appears to have been filmed by officer William McDaniel, who was dispatched to the scene, McAlexander was at the the scene and after discussion, advised officers to take Worten to the police department and to keep Worten there until his wife came to pick him up or he sobered up. Worten’s wife is Cathy Worten, who serves on the Pawhuska City Council.
The video also shows McAlexander instructing officers not to issue any citation to Worten at that time. “We’ll take care of that on Monday,” he said in the video.
The video shows that McDaniel transported Worten to the city jail.
According to the police reports, because of the confusion surrounding the alleged incident, officers were not able to perform a breath-alcohol test. State statutes govern that tests to show alcohol levels must be completed within two hours of an arrest. The records state that Worten was issued the citation later in the day.
When contacted, Laird told the Examiner-Enterprise he was not able to comment about the incident, but did say he stands by the accuracy of his department’s reports. McAlexander did not immediately return phone calls for comment.
W. Robert Wilson, who was named acting Pawhuska city attorney, would not comment on the alleged incident. He confirmed that he was named acting city attorney after the July 3 incident, and that Worten is reportedly on a two-month-long leave of absence.
The Journal-Capital’s sister publication,the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise,has posted a copy of the police video to its YouTube account. A link to the video is available within this story at http://www.examiner-enterprise.com. The video contains strong language,which some may find objectionable.