Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Clayton County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Wole Ralph allegedly swerved back and forth across Metropolitan Parkway in Atlanta last Saturday before he was arrested on a myriad of charges, including driving under the influence, according to an Atlanta police report.
The report also says that Ralph allegedly told police he did not have to comply with their commands, had to be pulled from the red Mustang he was driving, and claimed he was a "Police Commissioner."
He is facing charges of driving under the influence, driving under the influence (less safe), obstruction of an officer, reckless driving, and failure to maintain a lane. In a written statement released Monday, Ralph said he is "not guilty" of the charges, but police officers in their report described his alleged driving as "reckless," and wrote that the commissioner had an "overwhelming odor of alcohol" on his breath.
He refused to consent to "all related DUI testing including field sobriety as well as a breathalyzer," according to the police report.
"While speaking with Mr. Ralph, I noticed that his eyes were obviously glassy and had a bloodshot appearance," one of the police officers wrote in the report. "His speech was also extremely slurred."
Ralph is scheduled to appear in Atlanta Municipal Court on May 3, at 8 a.m., according to court officials. He could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
The police report says that he was allegedly pulling out of the parking lot of the night club "Creme," on Metropolitan Parkway, before he was pulled over. That would appear to contradict Ralph's assertion earlier this week that he had been pulling out of a bowling alley's parking lot.
During a commission retreat, less than 24 hours before Ralph's arrest, he and other Clayton County commissioners agreed that they needed to set a better example for their constituents by patronizing more businesses in the county, rather than in Atlanta and other surrounding communities.
The police report paints a picture of a contentious confrontation between Atlanta police and the Clayton County commissioner when he was pulled over and arrested shortly after 2:30 a.m., on Saturday.
It also paints a picture, however, in which Ralph allegedly drove on top of the median of Metropolitan Parkway, in the middle of the road.
"While driving down Metropolitan, the red Mustang then abruptly swerved from the right lane, crossing into the left lane, and then converged on top of the median separating the four-lane highway of Metropolitan Parkway," one officer wrote in the report.
"The red Mustang continued its path for several seconds with the vehicle being centered on top of the median causing the vehicle's lower carriage to be violently dragged over the top of the median, causing sparks to began [sic] flying from underneath the vehicle into the roadway," the officer added.
The report says that, once Ralph was pulled over by police officers, he allegedly responded to officer's requests for him to turn his car off with a declaration that "I don't have to do that, I didn't do anything wrong."
The report also says another officer opened the driver's-side door on the Mustang and asked Ralph to step out of the vehicle, but the commissioner "responded, 'no,' and attempted to grab the handle to the driver's door and slam the door shut," until the officer blocked the door. The report further says the county commissioner continually refused to cooperate with commands from the officers who pulled him over.
At one point, his alleged refusal to obey the commands caused alarm for the officers when they thought he might have been reaching for a weapon when he allegedly refused to pull his hand out of a console in the Mustang.
"Fearing that Mr. Ralph may have had a weapon inside the console, and considering that he continued to refuse all of our request [sic], I began trying to pull Mr. Ralph out of the vehicle," one of the officers wrote in the report.
Once the commissioner was pulled out of his vehicle, his alleged struggle with police continued, with the commissioner at one point allegedly "attempting to put his hands under his belly" when officers tried to place him in handcuffs.
The report says Ralph complained of pain in his hip, but paramedics who responded to the scene determined he did not need to be transported to a hospital. He was taken to the Atlanta Grady Detention Center for DUI processing and was later transported to the Atlanta City Detention Center, where he was released on a $4,300 bond.
The police report says items seized by Atlanta police officers, from the Mustang Ralph was driving, include: Eight "power cords/phone chargers;" five universal serial bus (USB) drives; three cell phones; two pocket knives; two Clayton County government credentials; two watches; two check books; two debit cards; one passport; a global positioning system (GPS) unit; an Apple iPad; a laptop computer; a wireless router; a cell phone battery; a pair of "Rayband" sunglasses; a spare key; a blue tooth unit; one phone case, and a set of headphones.
The report also says police seized $87 in cash that Ralph was carrying at the time of his arrest.