Prince George’s County Councilman Mel Franklin, who’s contemplating seeking the open county executive seat in two years, recently got charged with driving under the influence and other charges after he crashed a county vehicle at a traffic light.
Maryland state police said Franklin drove southbound when he rammed in the back of a 2007 Mercedes at a traffic light at Pennsylvania Avenue and Dower House Road. Police said the two passengers of the Mercedes got transported to a local hospital for treatment of their injuries.
Police found Franklin, of Upper Marlboro, about 70 yards away “walking in the center median, before crossing the northbound lanes and walking along the shoulder.”
Franklin [full name Jamel R. Franklin], got released “to a sober driver” but still charged with driving under the influence, driving while impaired, negligent driving and failure to control speed to avoid a collision.
Franklin (D-District 9), who did not respond to email requests for comment, has served on the council since December 2009 and previously served as the board chair. He attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this summer as a delegate.
Franklin’s attorney, Theresa L. Moore, with an office in Upper Marlboro, did not respond to a request for comment. The investigation continues as state police will consult with the county state’s attorney’s office to possibly file additional charges.
John Erzen, spokesman for the State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, said via email Thursday, Dec. 1 the office would likely ask a prosecutor from another jurisdiction to handle the case to avoid any potential appearance of a conflict of interest.
As of Monday, Dec. 5, no court date had been set for the councilman who turned 41 on Nov. 30, according to court record.
Councilman Obie Patterson (D-District 8) of Fort Washington said he’s praying for all those involved in the accident.
“I pray [Franklin] is holding up strong. I pray for the families who got injured,” he said. “We just have to keep everyone in prayer.”
Meanwhile, Mothers Against Drunk Driving [MADD] released a statement urging Franklin to install an ignition interlock device into his vehicle. It connects the ignition system to a breath analyzer that measures a person’s alcohol level and prevents a vehicle from starting if the level exceeds the setting on the device.
“MADD urges Councilman Franklin to do exactly that to show that Prince George’s County leadership recognizes the seriousness of this violent crime,” said Joe Sikes, who chairs the MADD Maryland State Advisory Board.
Council Chairman Derrick Leon Davis (D-District 6) of Upper Marlboro released a statement last week and said this will be a legal matter addressed by the courts.
“Council member Franklin has relinquished the use of his county vehicle and no longer has use of or access to any county-issued vehicle,” Davis said. “The council remains focused on its work serving the people of Prince George’s County.”
Meanwhile, County Council held its annual gavel exchange Tuesday, Dec. 6 to appoint a new chair and vice chair for the board until Dec. 4, 2017.
Later that day, Franklin had a District 9 briefing in Clinton for small and minority businesses to learn about subcontracting opportunities for a future 75,000-square-foot recreation and aquatics center in Brandywine.