Atlanta man Jon-Christopher Sowells arrested during BMW test drive

Jon-Christopher Sowells

A man who went car shopping in Gwinnett County ended up in jail during a test drive.

Jon-Christopher Sowells had just driven a BMW out of Philips Motors on Highway 78 in Snellville when an officer stopped him.

Sowell told the media that he pulled over, unclear about why the Snellville police officer stopped him. 

"He said you don't have any tags on the car. I said, ‘No problem, I don't have any tags on this car because it's not my car. The dealer is right there we can get it all clarified,’” Sowells said.

Sowells said he asked the officers to call the dealer three or four times, then the officer asked to see some paperwork on the back seat. Not knowing what the papers were, Sowells refused.

“They asked me to get out of the car. I said 'I don't feel comfortable.' They commenced to open up the car door and they tried to drag me out of the door by my left arm," he said.

At that point, Sowells says, the officer had called for backup.

According to the police report, Sowells pulled away from the officers. Two officers grabbed their Tasers and Sowells got out of the car. He was arrested for obstruction.

“They're treating me like I'm a criminal and I hadn't done anything," he said.

Snellville Police Chief Roy Whitehead emailed Kavanaugh a statement.

"The officer observed a paper on the rear seat that appeared to be of the type dealers use when placing a vehicle for sale. He asked if he could retrieve it and Mr. Sowells refused. Based on his refusal to provide information and his passive and then active resistance, Mr. Sowells was charged with obstruction," the statement said.

 Whitehead also noted that because no one answered the phone at the dealership, the officer drove there to verify Sowell's story.

"The dealer comes out to pick the car up and at this point, I'm thinking we can all go home everything is OK now. No it's not OK, I'm going to jail," Sowells said.

Sowells said he has never been arrested before and he plans to fight the charge. He also bought the BMW. Snellville police contend he had opportunities to cooperate with their investigation.

By Staff Writer 05/28/2013 20:42:00

Subscribe to comments feed Comments(7 posted)

Naajiya 06/05/2013 09:04:25
that's just sad....he got arrested for driving while black....
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Dee Wheat 06/06/2013 11:40:31
No, he didn't get arrestor DWB, he was stopped because the card no tag and when the officer made reasonable requests, he refused to comply. I'm a little 64 y/o gray haired white woman and they would have done exactly the same thing if it had been me. Furthermore, I would have expected them to.
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Ty 06/12/2013 12:08:16
Dee you should not lie to yourself. You know good and well that these officers would not take a white woman to jail for this. This type of treatment just don't happen to whites as you claim. There are incidents but it is epidemic amongst blacks.
GreensboroVet 06/19/2013 08:26:19
Dee. From your statement(s) above, I see your still living in the imaginary world of white America.
Dee Wheat 06/06/2013 11:43:48
Crap, I type faster than my computer! He was stopped because the car had no tag. He was arrested because he refused to comply with the officer's reasonable requests.
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Dan M. 03/07/2014 08:50:37
You are wrong Dee, it is a shame you can not see that. Our entire society takes a big step backwards and remains there when a person thinks and acts as you do. The least you can do is not influence others to be biased and uncaring of others as yourself. The rest of use can do without you. .
J Alabi 06/06/2013 13:21:46
Ms. Wheat, it may have been a reasonable request but Mr. Sowells was perfectly within his rights to refuse it. He didn't know what that paper had printed on it, and we still have fifth amendment rights regarding non-self-incrimination. A driver sitting in a car with his hands on the steering wheel does not present a threat; the officers (yes, more than one!) could have called the dealership until someone picked up the phone and they could have easily confirmed that Mr. Sowells was telling the truth.

So, yes, sadly, this does seem to be yet another case of Driving While Black. Because of course no black man has enough money to purchase a Beemer unless he's a drug runner or he stole it, right? </sarcasm>
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