The Tomah Police Department says it will release a video showing Rep. Jeffrey Wood being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after all.
Police Chief Wesley Revels said Friday morning that releasing the video taken from a squad car during Wednesday's arrest would hurt Wood's ability to get a fair trial.
Revels reversed his position Friday afternoon after media outlets protested. He said he has decided to make the video public next week after consulting with the city attorney.
The State Patrol released video from Wood's two other arrests on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the past 10 months.
Wood said Friday he will not run for re-election next year.
Representative Jeff Wood released a statement today saying he is sorry, and will not seek re-election, but did not make any statement about possibly resigning.
FROM REP. WOOD'S OFFICE:
October 23, 2009
Statement from Representative Wood
“I am deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I have caused for my family and regret any disgrace I may have brought on the Wisconsin State Legislature.
“I believe it is in my family’s best interest for me not to seek re-election to the Assembly next year, and I plan instead to focus on recovery.
“I have been in an in-patient treatment facility for the past three weeks. On Wednesday my roommate in treatment unexpectedly left the program. I requested a day pass to try to locate and convince him to return to complete treatment. During this time, I brought my prescription medication with me and took more than was prescribed.
While I face many difficult decisions in the weeks and months ahead, today I know my primary focus must be on my own treatment for my struggles with drug and alcohol abuse.”
Representative Jeff Wood talked on his cell phone and held up his hand to our questions just minutes after his release from jail. He also sat speechless as he appeared via teleconference in Monroe County court Thursday afternoon. But, court documents tell us much more about Wood's latest arrest.
Thursday, we confirmed his latest OWI is again related to prescription drugs. According to the criminal complaint, Wood was pulled over after a 911 caller reported his car was all over the road.
When officers gave him a field sobriety test they say Wood ended up falling to the ground. "Wood stated that he slipped and wanted to try the test again." That's when officers say Wood "again lost his balance and began hopping backwards… Fearing that Wood would harm himself, (the officer) decided to stop the standardized testing for his safety."
Wood told officers he had taken two antidepressant pills. Officers found four bottles of prescription medicine—three in Wood's pockets; one more in his car. He's charged with his 3rd OWI, but court records show he's been arrested five times for OWI.
"Before anyone can be convicted, they have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty," says Monroe County District Attorney Daniel Cary.
But, in Chippewa Falls, voters say it's time for the independent to step down.
"I think it's really bad for the state of Wisconsin and for our area," says Jean Hebert.
"Things do happen and I kind of feel for the guy in a way, but also in a way I feel he shouldn't have anything to do with our government," says Jeremy Bowe.
"I think he needs to get help. I think he needs to leave office," says Gary Siverling.
"He should step down. Do the right thing," says Bob Bird.
In Madison, Governor Jim Doyle is also calling for Wood's resignation. Doyle said Thursday that the cleanest way to deal with the problem would be for Wood to resign. He says Wood's constituents aren't getting the representation they need. Doyle says Wood should step aside to focus on his legal and personal problems.
The man who started the process to oust him also says enough is enough.
"I was stunned, just stunned. I thought there would have been a lesson learned after the forth time. Now we're dealing with a fifth time which is terribly unfortunate not only for Jeff Wood, but also the institution," says Steve Nass (R) Whitewater.
State Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan also released a statement Thursday saying Wood told him he was in an inpatient rehab program.
“However, with this arrest, it seems clear that Rep. Wood has not been solely focused on recovery and has again endangered himself and the public. Now, we must take a very hard look at his case, and determine if he is truly able to serve the people of his district. Rep. Wood must take responsibility and be held accountable for his actions,” Sheridan says.
Jeff Wood is out of jail on $1000 cash bond. Court documents show Wood was driving from the VA Medical Center in Tomah when he was pulled over.
STORY FROM WEDNESDAY (10/22/09):
Representative Jeff Wood is arrested for another OWI. The Tomah police chief tells WEAU 13 News he was arrested for OWI and bail jumping and was taken to the Monroe County Jail Wednesday afternoon.
Tomah police arrested Representative Wood of the 67th Assembly District (I-Chippewa Falls) after someone called in an erratic driver just before 4:30 Wednesday. Officers say they saw Wood swerve on the road and drive over the curb. Officers then pulled him over and arrested him.
Police say they gave Wood a preliminary breath test but didn't detect any alcohol. He was arrested for operating under the influence of an intoxicant or other drug and for bail jumping. He was then taken to the Monroe County Jail.
Wednesday's arrest comes less than one month after troopers in Marathon County arrested Wood for OWI on September 23. According to on-line court records, this is Wood's fifth OWI arrest, two are still going through the court process.
At last report, Wood's office told us he was working on getting into a rehab program. But, there's no word on if he was currently in treatment.
On September 24, troopers arrested Wood near Wausau after someone reported a vehicle driving recklessly in Portage County. The State Patrol says investigators found a prescription bottle of Lorazepam, an anxiety medication, with seven pills in it after stopping Wood's vehicle and noticing he looked sleepy. The prescription of 45 pills had been filled the day before.
Wood was also arrested in December 2008 in Columbia County and charged with OWI and possession of THC (marijuana) and possession of drug paraphernalia after he crashed into a highway sign. The State Patrol says Wood had a marijuana pipe in his car and less than five grams of marijuana. Troopers say Wood was urinating on the shoulder of a highway when a state trooper approached him. Reports show Wood smashed into a highway sign in the median before pulling over to the side of Interstate 90.
The charges in Portage and Columbia Counties are still pending in court.
He was convicted in 1990; and in 1991 refused to submit to a blood alcohol test during another traffic stop.
We tried reaching Representative Jeff Wood's office for comment Wednesday, but did not hear back immediately.
Jeff Wood's father also told WEAU 13 News he did not wish to comment Wednesday night.
Wednesday night, Senator Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls) issued this statement:
"The report of Representative Wood being arrested again for alleged impaired driving is both tragic and troubling. I have so much sympathy for his wife and young kids as they all struggle with the monster of addiction and what it does to a family. I really do want him to get the help he needs. But this is equally troubling because it appears he has again put people's lives in danger on the road and no amount of personal sympathy can condone those actions."
State Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) introduced his Assembly Expulsion Resolution on October 14. The Speaker of the Assembly Mike Sheridan (D-Janesville) must appoint a Special Committee on Ethics and Standards to act on the Wood Expulsion Resolution. The Speaker has yet to move forward with the process as required under Assembly Rules.
“There can be no more sympathy for Rep. Wood. He is a menace to public safety and unable to serve in the Wisconsin State Assembly as an honorable or effective member. He is unlikely to resign, so it is now up to the Assembly to adopt my expulsion resolution. Speaker Sheridan and Rep. Mark Pocan, both members of Democrat leadership, have publicly defended Wood by coming out against expulsion. They now have good cause to correct their lapse in judgment and do the right thing. The people of Wisconsin will not tolerate someone serving in the Assembly that is an outright threat to public safety,” Nass said.
Nass noted that citizens in Rep. Wood’s Assembly district can’t start a recall process legally until January 2010. Even if that process were to be successful, Rep. Wood could serve and collect a paycheck until about March or April 2010. The State Assembly could vote to expel Wood by November 5, 2009, prior to adjourning for the year.