Greenwood officer resigns, pleads guilty to OWI

A Greenwood police officer has resigned his position and pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated in February.

Jason “Jake” York, a veteran officer with the Greenwood Police Department, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Franklin City Court on June 13. He was sentenced to 365 days in jail, with a two-day jail credit. The remaining 363 days were suspended to probation, and he will also have to pay $235.50 in remaining court fees, according to online court records.

As part of his plea agreement, a second charge of operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to 0.15 or more was dismissed, online court records show.

Franklin police and sheriff’s deputies responded just before midnight on Feb. 19 to 1700 Northwood Plaza Drive. A witness had called 911 and reported a vehicle weaving in its lane. The witness said the vehicle was in the left lane of southbound U.S. 31 with its left turn signal on. The vehicle then crossed all lanes of travel on U.S. 31 and turned right into the gas station parking lot, the witness said. Officers arrived on scene and found York standing outside the suspect vehicle pumping gas. They could smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from him and his vehicle, according to a Franklin Police Department report.

When officers approached York, he was on the phone, attempting to explain his location. They asked him to hang up the phone so they could speak with him. They observed an empty 24-ounce can of White Claw in the cup holder of the center console, according to the report.

York opened his wallet and showed them a law enforcement badge, identifying himself as a Greenwood police officer. Franklin officers told York about the driving complaint. He said he was fine, and that he had one beer, the report shows.

Officers asked York if he would take a Portable Breath Test, and he agreed. Officers asked York if he thought “he would be over” in reference to his blood alcohol level, and he said, “I shouldn’t be over.” However, the PBT registered 0.225, nearly three times the legal limit, the report shows.

York told police he had been following a local girls’ basketball team from their semi-state win in Jasper, and he followed their return route as they went through the city. He asked about his vehicle, and stepped back to his open driver’s door. He began talking again to the person on the phone. While speaking with them, he said, “I pulled in here to get gas. They didn’t see me driving. I’m not going to jail,” according to the report.

York told officers, “I have been drinking. I was not driving. The car was almost out of gas, so I pulled in here. I don’t know who called it in, but I was not driving like that.”

Officers asked York to take three field sobriety tests and he failed them, the report shows.

Upon failing the third time, York said, “(Expletive) it, take me to jail,” according to the report.

Officers took York to Johnson Memorial Hospital for a blood draw. While on their way to the hospital, he said he stopped in Bloomington for “a road pop.” Officers asked if he meant the White Claw, and he said yes. Officers asked why his blood alcohol level was so high if that is all he drank, and he said he had a “quarter pint of apple Jim Beam” as well, the report shows.

York declined to comment on his arrest at the time, and did not return a request for comment on Friday afternoon.

After York’s arrest, the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office announced it was seeking a special prosecutor to review the chase and pursue charges, as prosecutors had a relationship with York, Prosecutor Joe Villanueva said in February. The Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office acted as special prosecutors for the case, court records show.

Greenwood police officials had also suspended York without pay pending an internal investigation. On June 6, York resigned from the department, and the internal investigation was closed at that time, said Matt Fillenwarth, assistant police chief.