‘We Aren’t Above the Law’: House Censures Rep. Dean Davis After Public Intoxication Arrest
KOKH - March 29, 2023 6:57 am
The House voted to censure Rep. Dean Davis on Monday after he was arrested last week for public intoxication. (Courtesy: OCDC)
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — The House voted to censure Rep. Dean Davis on Monday after he was arrested last week for public intoxication.
Davis, who is a representative of Broken Arrow, was arrested at Skinny Slims early Thursday morning after he was “argumentative” when confronted by officers and had “red watery eyes and slurred speech.”
After he was arrested for public intoxication, Davis told members of the House that the entire incident had “become a story.”
“I dispute any wrongdoing, however, I do want to take this opportunity to apologize to this body for creating this unnecessary distraction from the important work of the House,” Davis said.
As police put handcuffs on Davis, he questioned if the cops were “really doing this?” and that officers “cannot detain” him. He told officers to pull his State Representative card out of his wallet in an effort to get out of the arrest.
The card Davis requested that officers read detailed what the Oklahoma State Constitution said on the arrest of State Legislators, reading:
Senators and Representatives shall, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during the session of the Legislature, and in going to and returning from the same, and, for any speech or debate in either House, shall not be questioned in any other place.
Ultimately, officers told Davis that he was “not in legislature” and was not currently “at the State Capitol” or in session at the time of the arrest, so they took him to the Oklahoma County Detention Center, where he later got out on OR City Bond.
Davis has had multiple run-ins with the law, dating back to 2019 when he was arrested for a DUI. He pled nolo contendere and was sentenced in 2022 to a six-month deferred sentence, which he completed on March 3, 2023.
Members of the House voted on censuring Davis for the incident. Among those voting was Rep. Mauree Turner, who was recently censured. Turner asked their colleagues to not censure Davis.
‘Continuing to censure people in this body won’t push the representative [Davis] towards the help that he needs, and sends a message to folks who are battling substance use issues that getting the help you need is not the priority to this body, but continuing to silence communities who need access to resources, who need to be wrapped in love and community support, the message we send to them is that those issues aren’t a priority to us,” Turner said. “Have we ever tried something different? I’m asking, have we ever tried to actually get people the help they need? I think just about all of us know someone who has gone through something, whether it’s a substance use issue or whether it’s a criminal/legal issue… People should not be reduced to the worst moments they’ve had to live through… So I think censuring, even though he voted to censure me, I think censuring the representative is probably something we shouldn’t do. ‘
However, others argued against Turner’s points.
“We are not above the law,” said Rep. Jon Echols, who encouraged the censure.
Rep. TJ Marti, who was with Davis at the time of the arrest, did not vote on the censure.
Speaker of the House Charles McCall, R-Atoka, issued the following statement following the vote on the censure:
As a body, the House of Representatives and its members must hold ourselves to a high standard, and Rep. Davis’ conduct did not live up to that standard. The decision to censure a member of the House is not one that is made easily or carelessly, but is made when it is necessary to maintain the integrity of the House of Representatives and the trust of the great people of the state of Oklahoma in their government. The House of Representatives has nothing but the utmost respect for the members of our law enforcement community, and we expect the members of our body to exemplify that in their dealings with law enforcement.
Oklahoma House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson, D-OKC, said Davis has to be held accountable for his actions:
When a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives violates the law they must be held accountable. The video from the Representative’s arrest shows that he was detained related to intoxication and attempted to use his position as an elected official to avoid facing consequences. It appears he needs to seek help and I sincerely hope he does.
As members of the House of Representatives, we are not are above the law and we must protect the public safety of all people. It is incumbent upon us to continue to hold members who violate the law accountable.
The House voted to censure Davis, with a vote of 81-9.