Kansas lawmaker charged with traffic violations but not DUI
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state legislator has been charged with two traffic violations over his late November arrest on Interstate 70 in northeast Kansas but not with driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, the potential crime initially listed by the Highway Patrol.
Democratic state Rep. Aaron Coleman, of Kansas City, also still faces a misdemeanor domestic battery charge in a separate criminal case in the Kansas City area over an Oct. 30 fight with his younger brother. Coleman pled not guilty, and a scheduling hearing in that case is set for Wednesday in Johnson County District Court.
In neighboring Douglas County, home to Lawrence and the main University of Kansas campus, Coleman faces charges of speeding and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle as required by law over a Nov. 27 stop. A complaint filed Jan. 21 by an assistant district attorney says Coleman was driving 92 mph (148 kph) when the post speed limit was 75 mph (121 kph). Together, the charges could result in several hundred dollars in fines.
Coleman is scheduled to have the charges formally read to him and enter a plea on April 15, during a break in the Kansas Legislature’s annual session. His attorney, David Bell, declined comment.
Coleman has been embroiled in controversy since he ran for the House in 2020, when he acknowledged past abuses against girls and young women. A legislative committee reprimanded Coleman in writing in February 2020 over those abuses. After his two arrests within a month, six female Democrats in the House filed a complaint against him with the House designed to lead to his ouster.
The Kansas Highway Patrol initially said he had been arrested in Douglas County on suspicion of DUI, but a decision on charges waited on the report to the district attorney’s office from the patrol on the substances in Coleman’s body at the time of the stop. Coleman has said he wasn’t under the influence.
Jill Jess, a spokesperson for the Douglas County district attorney’s office, said the charges were “based on evidence presented,” without elaborating. The Associated Press has requested a copy of the patrol’s report.
“Mr. Coleman faces no further charges in Douglas County at this time,” she wrote.
Coleman is free on bond in both criminal cases. At the Statehouse, he’s been pursuing a liberal agenda and earlier this month introduced a bill to reduce criminal penalties for possessing or distributing psychedelic mushrooms. But Democratic leaders have refused to give him any committee assignments.
The complaint filed against him by six fellow Democrats revived the committee of three Republicans and three Democrats that admonished him in writing last year. But its chairman has said it doesn’t plan to meet again until Coleman’s criminal cases are resolved.
In the Johnson County case, Coleman was ordered to undergo a mental health exam. Court documents said Coleman, who is Jewish, had a fight with his younger brother over the brother’s plans for a Christian baptism.
A police sergeant wrote in an affidavit that Coleman was uncooperative and “extremely erratic,” and that he reported not sleeping for three days. Coleman tweeted Nov. 25 — two days before his arrest in Douglas County — that he’s suffered from chronic insomnia “my whole adult life.”
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