Speaker Philip Gunn said he still will ask the House Ethics Committee to look into the circumstances that led to police charging state Rep. Douglas McLeod with domestic violence despite a George County justice court finding McLeod not guilty Tuesday.
In a statement, Gunn said, “This whole situation is still very concerning not only to me, but to other members of the House of Representatives. The court may have found Rep. McLeod not guilty, but as a member of the Mississippi Legislature to find yourself in this situation – it is still an issue. As we have done with other matters, we will refer this to the House Ethics Committee for further consideration.”
After McLeod was charged with domestic violence, a misdemeanor, in May, Gunn said at the time he had asked his staff to research methods to remove him from office if the allegations were proven true.
McLeod, 58, a Republican from Lucedale, is completing his second term in the House and is unopposed for re-election this November.
According to the Sun Herald, George County Justice Court Judge Mike Bullock found McLeod not guilty after McLeod’s wife, Michele, unexpectedly took the stand and said her husband was in a “state of delirum” after he mixed wine and prescription-strength Ibuprofen when “probably his arm” accidently hit her in the face.
She told the judge she was never assaulted, according to the Sun Herald. Upon making his ruling, Bullock said he could see how the incident could have occurred. Before handing down the verdict, the judge also said, according to the Sun Herald, that “Mrs. McLeod was in fear of Mr. McLeod. She was in fear of him.”
According to police reports and testimony at Monday’s trial, police found Michele McLeod bloodied and hiding in a locked bedroom when they responded to a 911 call. Video from a police body camera was admitted into evidence, showing a bloodied Michele McLeod telling law enforcement that her husband gets angry with her when he is drunk.
She said at the time McLeod hit her because she was not undressing fast enough for sex, according to police reports.
On Tuesday she said she was upset not because of her husband’s actions but because of the law enforcement officers in her home when she was not properly dressed.
The state Constitution provides authority of each chamber of the Legislature to remove a member for misconduct by a two-thirds vote.
In a statement. Lucien Smith, chair of the state Republican Party, said, “The Mississippi Republican Party continues to condemn domestic violence in the strongest possible terms. I share Speaker Gunn’s concerns about Rep. McLeod’s actions and applaud him for referring this matter to the Ethics Committee.”