Major Update On Jack Swagger’s Arrest


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GULFPORT — Wrestling superstar Jack Swagger will avoid a two-day jail stay for conviction of driving under the influence of marijuana in Gulfport.

A city judge found him guilty Tuesday of DUI other substance and speeding Feb. 19 after a trial lasting several hours in Gulfport Municipal Court.

Swagger, whose real name is Donald Jacob “Jake” Hager, had been arrested in a traffic stop. He told a Gulfport police officer he had just showered, stopped by a fast-food restaurant and was “pretty banged up” from a taping of the TV show “WWE SmackDown” at the Coast Coliseum in Biloxi.

The officer testified Swagger was driving 10 mph faster than the speed limit in a rental car when he stopped him on Lorraine Road at 11:29 p.m., adding he smelled burned marijuana.

Swagger did not testify, but in a video recorded by a patrol car camera, he told the officer he was on his way to New Orleans and had smoked some marijuana before he left the Coliseum. The officer said he saw a few pieces of marijuana in Swagger’s lap.

“I know I (expletive)-ed up,” he told the officer. “I apologize, man.”

Judge Felicia Dunn-Burkes suspended a two-day jail sentence for six months of good behavior, but fined Swagger $1,000 plus $300 in court costs for the DUI conviction.

She also fined him $198 for speeding and ordered him to attend an alcohol-safety education class and a victim-impact class. He can get his driver’s license back in 90 days if he completes the classes, instead of a year.

The DUI charge is a misdemeanor.

Assistant City Prosecutor Richard Smith asked the judge to dismiss a related charge of possession of marijuana involving a total of 0.03 grams seized by police.

The 6-foot-7, 260-pound former world heavyweight champ arrived for court in a black business suit with a yellow tie and a large splint on one hand.

“I severed a tendon in my thumb,” he said before the trial.

DUI officer Louis Garcia, assigned to Gulfport’s traffic division, testified Swagger had handed him his credit card when Garcia asked for his driver’s license. Garcia said he smelled burned marijuana, and Swagger’s speech was slow, his eyes bloodshot and watery, but he was “cooperative, nervous and talkative.”

“He was just as docile as a gentleman can possibly be,” Garcia said.

The video showed Swagger taking a field sobriety test in 44-degree weather on a roadside just north of Morningside Drive, an area south of Interstate 10. Garcia described the test as a “walk and turn” while counting and a one-leg stand, also while counting.

Swagger stumbled a few times while waving his arms in the air to balance himself and stood on one leg.

“It was probably by far one of the worst I’ve ever seen as a DUI officer for under the influence of marijuana,” Garcia said.

Swagger had no trouble otherwise, getting out of his car and walking around, but because of his size had trouble getting into the back of a patrol car, the officer said.

Swagger’s lead attorney, Vic Carmody Jr. of Jackson, argued blood was not drawn for a toxicology test, the only way to confirm if THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, was in his system.

“I wasn’t about to put this gentleman through any more embarrassment,” Garcia said.

Garcia said Swagger had already admitted he’d smoked some pot.

“There was no way I could turn my back on that,” Garcia said.

Dr. Jimmy Valentine, an expert in toxicology and pharmacology, testified reports from around the world show the field sobriety test was designed to show impairment from alcohol, not other substances.

Also, studies show a small dose of marijuana can take at least 30 minutes to get into a person’s bloodstream, indicating Swagger would not have been significantly impaired until 80 minutes after ingestion, about the time police released him to the custody of a friend, Valentine said.

His attorney said he plans to post an appeal bond, set at $1,498, the total amount of his fines and court costs.

In the ring, Swagger is known as a fierce competitor who portrays a “real American” who’s so tough he claims to “head-butt eagles.” He sat quietly throughout the trial.

Swagger had no comment after the trial.

“We appreciate trying this case in Gulfport Municipal Court and look forward to an appeal in county court,” Carmody said.

Swagger, a native of Perry, Okla., lives in Boca Raton, Fla. He won his first ECW championship in 2009, the world heavyweight title in 2010 and the U.S. championship in 2012.

Weeks after his Gulfport arrest, he lost a match against Alberto Del Rio to be the No. 1 contender to World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler.

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