- Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Sullentrop was arrested on suspicion of DUI.
- A judge granted his release from jail, saying police had no “probable cause to support” his arrest.
- Multiple 911 callers reported he was driving the wrong way on a highway, local news media said.
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Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Sullentrop, a top Republican lawmakers in the state, on Tuesday was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence but was soon released from jail after a judge said she believed police didn’t have probable cause to make the arrest.
Audio released Tuesday by the Shawnee County Dispatch and published by the local news outlet KSNT-TV showed several people called 911 to report they saw a white SUV driving west in the eastbound lanes of I-470 and eventually driving on I-70 around 12:45 a.m. Tuesday, local media outlets reported.
“They about hit me, but I’m OK. I’m fine,” one person said in the 911 call.
The Kansas Highway Patrol arrested Suellentrop, 68, in downtown Topeka after “a short pursuit” in which officers discussed using stop-spikes on his SUV to slow down the vehicle, according to police audio published by KSNT.
He faced charges of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, fleeing or attempting to flee from a law enforcement officer, speeding, and improperly crossing a divided highway, according to an arrest record published by the Shawnee County Adult Detention Center.
The KHP did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Sullentrop was released from jail Tuesday morning, hours after he was arrested, by a judge who said he believed police did not have enough evidence to make the arrest.
“At this time, I do not find probable cause to support your arrest and detention based upon failure to include some pertinent information within in that law enforcement officer report,” Shawnee County District Court Judge Penny Moylan said during the hearing, according to KSNT. “As such, you’re going to be released at this time.”
Representatives for the KHP told the outlet it planned to submit a more in-depth report on the arrest, though it did not give a timeframe for that.
Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson and Vice President Rick Wilborn, both Republicans, released a statement Tuesday about Sullentop’s arrest and subsequent release from jail.
“This morning, we all learned that Senator Suellentrop had been arrested and subsequently released without charges,” the statement read. “The underlying incident is certainly serious and very unfortunate. We will continue to pray for Gene and his family as we gather more information. The Senate continues to do our work on behalf of the people of Kansas.”
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat told reporters she expected this to “come back up again.”
“I don’t really want to comment on Sen. Suellentrop, but if you look at what the judge did, that’s pretty typical at a first hearing. If the paperwork is essentially not completed, and you look at the timeframe, I don’t think there was enough time to get all that paperwork done,” she said.