Columbus DA candidate Mark Jones turns self in to police

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Credit: Muscogee County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Muscogee County Sheriff's Office

Jones says he will continue his campaign

Mark Jones, the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit district attorney candidate who was wanted by police for allegedly putting the public in “danger” during the filming of a campaign video, has turned himself in.

Jones surrendered at the Columbus Public Safety Center on 10th Street at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, The Columbus Ledger Inquirer reported. He was accompanied by his attorney, Christopher Breault.

WRBL reported Jones has previously been arrested twice for DUI since 2015.

Jones, 38, was first arrested on Sept. 12, 2015, and charged with DUI. He refused to take three sobriety tests and eventually pleaded guilty to DUI. Jones got a second DUI charge on Nov. 11, 2019. That case is pending.

An arrest warrant was issued Tuesday evening for Jones after a controversy surrounding his campaign video, news station WTVM reported.

Columbus police allege Jones put the general public in “danger” when filming the video and asked the public for its help finding him, WTVM reported.

Two men who shot the campaign video without a permit for Jones were accused of damaging government property.

Christopher Mandel Black, 23, and Erik Deangelo Whittington, 24, were booked into jail Friday, several days after the “Get Out And Vote” rap video was released, local news outlets reported.

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The video posted Monday on Facebook featured Jones, Rapper JawGaBoi and an overhead shot of a car burning rubber while cutting doughnuts in the parking lot of the Columbus Civic Center.

"Nobody had been notified with the city," Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson told the Columbus Ledger Inquirer. "What they did was destroy government property."

Police said Jones’ campaign did not get a permit to shoot the ad, adding the video was what led to the arrest of Black and Whittington.

On a Facebook Live video posted on his campaign’s Facebook page Saturday, Jones accused his challenger in the race, incumbent district attorney Julia Slater, of using the arrests to try “to suppress the vote to stay in power” and “steal an election.”

Slater and police have denied that she was a part of the investigation against the two men.

“The only decision I have made in this case is that my office has a conflict and will not be prosecuting the case,” Slater said. “I was not consulted about the arrests or the bonds in this matter.”

Ana Cecilia Grimmett, Black’s girlfriend, told the Columbus Ledger Enquirer the arrests were “all Mark Jones’ fault.” She alleges Jones told her boyfriend he’s going to be OK when Black asked him about the legality of cutting doughnuts in the parking lot. According to Grimmett, her boyfriend participated but was not the driver of the car featured in the final campaign video.

Black and Whittington face several charges including felony interference with government property and first-degree criminal damage to property, records show. Their bonds were reduced to about $31,000 Saturday, and both were expected to be released that day, according to WTVM.

The Democratic primary for the district attorney seat is scheduled June 9.

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