A former Democratic Indiana state representative was found apparently intoxicated at a gas station early this morning and avoided arrest by falsely telling police he was a lawmaker serving during the special session, which would grant him immunity.
Police found Dennie Oxley, 38, at the Downtown Citgo in the 400 block of East Ohio Street about 1 a.m. today. According to a police report, he smelled heavily of alcohol, his eyes were glassy and bloodshot, and his speech was extremely slurred. He was standing a few feet away from Kristin Dowlut, 21, who was lying face down on the gas station parking lot, apparently unconscious.
When Oxley observed police, he began walking away while an officer asked him to stop. After police detained Oxley, he told them he was a state representative and was currently in special session.
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said he would meet with officers Monday to discuss the case and whether criminal charges would be filed. Oxley could face charges of public intoxication and impersonation of a public servant, both misdemeanors.
According to the police report, a witness who works at the gas station told police he saw a taxi cab drop off Oxley and Dowlut and later noticed Dowlut on the ground but didn't know how she got there. The gas station attendant said he went outside to try to help the female and tried to get Oxley to help her, but Oxley responded that he was not going to touch her.
Dowlut was transported to Wishard Memorial Hospital. Police did not arrest Oxley, according to the report, because of immunity during the General Assembly session.
The Indiana Constitution provides lawmakers immunity from arrest during session in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace. Lawmakers can later be charged with the crimes.
When Oxley was arrested in Crawford County in February, the initial reports indicated he had a passenger in his car at the time of his collision; however, later reports claimed he was driving alone. Oxley's car still had legislative license plates at the time of the February collision, even though he was no longer a state representative. The gas station where last night's incident occurred is very close to House Speaker Pat Bauer's downtown condo. Frugal Hoosiers identifies the 21-year-old female compansion of Oxley's as a House Democratic intern.
WRTV's Jack Rinehart says most of the incident was captured by the gas station's surveillance cameras, which doesn't look good for Oxley. He reports:
Much of the incident was captured on gas station surveillance video. When officers arrived, it appeared on the video that Oxley tried to hide behind another car, hoping to avoid detection.I noticed during Jack Rinehart's interview of Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi on WRTV that Brizzi credited Rinehart with bringing the impersonation accusation against Oxley to his office's attention. It should be noted that Dennie Oxley, Sr., his father, took his place in the legislature, which explains why police were easily thrown off by his claim of being a legislator.
Oxley has not been charged, but because he allegedly gave police incorrect information about being a member of the Legislature, obstruction of justice and public intoxication are two of several charges he could face.
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said he has ordered an investigation into the Oxley case and called the allegations serious.
"We want to talk to the police officers and find out what was said," Brizzi said. "We don't have all the facts, so we're going to take some time."