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Kansas patrol: Basic report not ready on GOP leader’s arrest

March 18, 2021 GMT
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Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop, R-Wichita, follows a discussion during a meeting of fellow GOP senators Wednesday, March 17, 2021, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Suellentrop is stepping away from most of his duties as majority leader following his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence and attempting to flee law enforcement. (AP Photo/Andy Tsubasa Field)
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Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop, R-Wichita, follows a discussion during a meeting of fellow GOP senators Wednesday, March 17, 2021, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Suellentrop is stepping away from most of his duties as majority leader following his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence and attempting to flee law enforcement. (AP Photo/Andy Tsubasa Field)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Highway Patrol official said Wednesday that basic information won’t be available for more than a week on its arrest early Tuesday of a top legislative leader on suspicion of driving under the influence and attempting to flee from law enforcement while driving the wrong way on a highway in Topeka.

The disclosure from Luther Ganieany, the patrol’s general counsel, came shortly before Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop announced that he was stepping away from most of his office’s duties until matters related to his arrest are resolved. Suellentrop, a Wichita Republican, is the Senate’s No. 2 leader, and the majority leader sets the chamber’s daily debate calendar.

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The patrol’s Capitol Police division arrested Suellentrop on Interstate 70 near downtown Topeka after his SUV was reported traveling east in the highway’s westbound lanes. He was booked into the Shawnee County jail, but a judge ordered him released hours later, saying there was not sufficient evidence to support his arrest.

The Associated Press and other news organizations filed open records requests seeking the public, front page of the report on the arrest, as well as copies of any patrol car dash-camera or officer body-camera video.

Ganieany told The AP in an email that the videos are investigative records and the patrol is not required to disclose them. He said the public portion of the arrest report would be available “on or before” March 26.

The judge who released Suellentrop from jail was not specific about what evidence she lacked to support his arrest. While Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly declined to comment about Suellentrop, she described his first court hearing as “pretty typical” and said people are released “if the paperwork is not simply completed.”

“If you look at the timeframe, I don’t think there was enough time to get all of it taken care of,” Kelly told reporters after touring an east Topeka childcare center. The patrol reports to her.

Suellentrop was at the Statehouse on Wednesday and attended a meeting of Republican senators to discuss the day’s agenda. A GOP staffer handed out a written statement from Suellentrop after the meeting, and Suellentrop did not answer questions as he left.

His statement said most of his duties will be handled by Assistant Majority Leader Larry Alley, a Winfield Republican, and that Suellentrop regretted that “this incident” had caused “a distraction” for colleagues and from the Senate’s business.

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