Some serious and legitimate questions have been raised following the arrest of Bowling Green City Commissioner Brian Nash on May 23 for public intoxication outside the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center, where he had been attending an event.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office’s arrest citation said the deputy, who was working a special detail at the event, followed Nash outside the building as he walked to his vehicle, saw Nash get into the vehicle and start the engine. The deputy made contact with Nash before he left the parking lot. Nash said he was not going anywhere, and the deputy asked him to exit his vehicle.
Although the arrest citation does not specifically say Nash moved his vehicle, Warren County Sheriff Brett Hightower said Thursday at a community forum in Plano that he learned the following morning that Nash was seen backing his vehicle out of a parking space but was stopped before he could leave the lot. That’s an important piece of information that we believe should have been revealed publicly much earlier in this process.
Hightower said Thursday that the deputy told him he believed he lacked probable cause in the form of witnessing a motorist weaving on a road or crossing the center line of a street to arrest Nash on a DUI charge, and that no field sobriety tests were administered before the arrest. Such tests are not necessary to give prior to arresting a person on suspicion of public intoxication.
We’re glad the deputy arrested Nash, since he was clearly breaking the law by being intoxicated in public. He would have put the public at risk had he left the area in his vehicle. But the question that many in our community are asking, as outlined in an article in Wednesday’s edition of the Daily News, is whether Nash should have been charged with DUI.
We’re not going to play judge and jury to that question, but we believe it is a valid one to ask.
After his arrest, Nash’s attorney, Alan Simpson, described his version of the circumstances in a text message to the Daily News: “Upon walking out of the event, (Nash) walked with his adult daughter to secure his vehicle so that it could be left overnight. Just as he was contacting Uber, for a ride home, he was approached by law enforcement and arrested.”
This puzzling statement by Simpson has also been questioned and criticized. Why would Nash start his engine and back out of a parking space if he planned to request an Uber? Simpson’s description of Nash’s behavior doesn’t make sense and raises more questions about this whole matter.
The biggest question we, and many in the public, have is why wasn’t he charged with DUI?
Kentucky law forbids a person to “operate or be in physical control of a motor vehicle” while under the influence of alcohol or any other substance that impairs a person’s ability to drive, but the statutes outlining the state’s DUI laws offer no elaboration on what that phrase exactly means.
While the law might be a little vague on this, it is reasonable to classify Nash starting his engine and backing out of his parking space as “operating” his vehicle.
Hightower first weighed in on this issue on Facebook on May 24, when he wrote, “In light of what transpired and reviewing this incident, I am most confident that there would be different charges if this same scenario happened again.”
One could read into Hightower’s statement that perhaps a DUI should’ve been given to Nash, rather than the public intoxication charge.
Also, people are asking why Nash’s initial court appearance was moved to this past Tuesday instead of Wednesday, as it was initially scheduled. Simpson said it was a scheduling conflict. One could make the argument, however, that there was perhaps no scheduling conflict at all and the court appearance was quietly moved to Tuesday so Nash could avoid a media presence.
Nash has been a polarizing figure as a candidate and an elected official. This latest arrest is Nash’s second in six years on an alcohol-related offense. The first charge was a DUI from 2013. The case languished in the courts until this newspaper brought it back to light. The charge was ultimately dismissed, and Nash pleaded guilty to a count of improper turning.
At the end of the day, Nash’s actions are not what we expect from our elected officials. Being a public official means a lot of things, and one of them is conducting yourself properly in a public place. From all accounts, we don’t believe Nash met that standard on the evening of May 23.
Many people will look at this case and wonder if Nash got special treatment because he is an elected official?
If that is the case, what does it say to someone who is not an elected official who starts their engine and backs out of a parking space and gets arrested and charged with a DUI? Would they believe justice is blind?
We’re very disappointed in Nash and we believe his constituents should be disappointed in him, too. His actions on the evening of May 23 were not appropriate for the office he holds.