Man kicked out of Commerce Applebee’s, arrested for DUI with children unrestrained in car

Written by: K. Bishop

Published March 7, 2023 @ 6:40 PM ET

Banks County (February 17, 2023) – Deputies say a 29-year-old father arrested for drunk driving with his two young children in his vehicle made repeated threats about beating up Banks County deputies and having them fired by the Jackson County Sheriff. Applebee’s employees told deputies the man was kicked out earlier in the evening for being extremely intoxicated inside the restaurant with his children and a friend.

Jacob Cody Bennett of Nicholson allegedly attempted to flee in his truck before another driver assisted deputies by blocking the Applebee’s exit. Bennett reportedly cursed, threatened, and resisted the deputies while his children looked on from their father’s Ford F-150. Deputies say the children were unrestrained, and their father was obviously intoxicated, smelling of alcohol, and unable to stand upright.

Bennett was reportedly witnessed driving erratically by witnesses and deputies. A couple approached deputies in the RaceTrac parking lot and pointed out Bennett’s truck, afraid he was drunk driving. After being stopped by deputies, Bennett failed field sobriety tests and backed away from deputies, refusing to be escorted to a patrol vehicle. He had to be restrained against the side of the deputy’s car while his children watched. Deputies were concerned Bennett would run into traffic in his attempts to resist and potentially flee.

The children opened their father’s cell phone and tried to call several family members while a deputy comforted them. Eventually, they were able to contact their mother, who came to get the children. The woman told deputies this was not a unique event with Bennett and that he became belligerent when drunk, thinking he could “do whatever he wanted” due to a relative being a sheriff’s deputy in Jackson County.

During his arrest, Bennett allegedly told deputies he was a Jackson County deputy and continued threatening the deputies. He was escorted to the Banks County Jail and had to be helped into a safe position on the floor. Deputies gave the suspect a mat and food to help him sober up. Bennett was charged with child endangerment, driving under the influence, obstruction, a traffic violation, lack of insurance, and a suspended tag.

Officer’s Narrative:
[Please note: The following is a direct transcription from the official initial incident report. The Georgia Gazette does not fix any spelling or grammatical errors that may exist. Any changes or redactions made by our staff are placed inside brackets. Some errors may exist. All subjects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The topics discussed may be sensitive to some readers. Discretion is advised.]

On 2/17/2023 Deputy Z. Burnette and Inv. K Walker were conducting proactive patrols with Banks Crossing when we were approached by a older male and female who stated they believed the driver of red Ford truck was under the influence. Deputies observed the vehicle parked in front of Racetrac. Deputies then observed the vehicle leave and travel on Steven B Tanger Blvd towards W Ridgeway Rd.

Deputy Burnette observed the vehicle all over the roadway and attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle. Deputy Burnette followed the vehicle into the Appleebees parking lot. The driver continued around the front of the building and attempted to get past a truck which was leaving. The good Samaritan kept the offender from getting by him.

Deputy Burnette then exited his patrol car and the good Samaritan began to move out of the way. Once he started moving the offender began to driver again, in what appeared to be an attempt to flee from police. Deputies returned to their vehicle and pulled closer behind the offender. The good Samaritan then blocked the exit where the offender could no longer get out.

Deputies also observed two kids inside the vehicle without seatbelts on. Deputy Burnette made contact with the offender who was identified as the driver and sole operator of the vehicle. During the initial contact, Deputy Burnette could observe the offender to have slurred speech, blood shot watery eyes, and a strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming from his person as he spoke.

Deputy Burnette instructed the offender out of the vehicle. The offender exited the vehicle and had trouble standing. Deputy Burnette asked the offender if he had anything to drink. The offender stated no. Deputy Burnette advised the offender that he could smell the alcohol coming off his breath. The offender then stated he had two beers in slurred speech.

Deputy Burnette asked the offender if he would be willing to do field sobriety evaluations. The offender agreed to the evaluation. Deputy Burnette turned his lights on cruise mode and had the offender remove his hat. The offender was wearing regular shoes and clothing and nothing was noted that would affect the evaluation.

Deputy Burnette instructed the offender to stand with his feet together and his arms by his side. The offender got in the position but had a hard time maintaining his balance. Deputy Burnette asked the offender if he had any leg, back, or head injuries. The offender stated no. Deputy Burnette asked the offender if he wore contacts or glasses. The offender stated no.

Deputy Burnette then had the offender follow the tip of his finger with his eyes and eyes only, keeping his head straight at all times. The offender followed Deputy Burnettes finger. Equal pupil size and equal tracking were checked and observed. No resting Nystagmus was observed. Burnette conducted the first evaluation known a HGN (HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS).

During this evaluation Deputy Burnette observed LACK OF SMOOTH PURSUIT, DISTINCT AND SUSTAINED NYSTAGMUS AT MAXIMUM DEVIATION, and ONSET OF NYSTAGMUS PRIOR TO 45 DEGREES. Deputy Burnette then checked for Vertical Nystagmus which was observed as well. All clues were observed in both eyes. (6/6 clues)

Deputy Burnette then went into the second evaluation known as the WALK AND TURN. During this evaluation, Deputy Burnette instructed the offender to get into the starting position. Deputy Burnette gave these instructions multiple times and the offender had a hard time understanding it seemed due to the multiple times the instructions had to be given.

Once in the starting position, the offender could not maintain his balance and began walking before being instructed to. Deputy Burnette was finally after a few moments, able to complete the instructions and give a demonstration in front of the offender. Once done, Deputy Burnette asked the offender if he understood. The offender stated yes and began walking.

Deputy Burnette told the offender multiple times to not start before being told to. Deputy Barnette did advised the offender to keep his arms by his side, look down at his feet, count # of steps out loud, and to not stop until her was completed. When asked if he understood the offender began to walk.

During this evaluation, Deputy Burnette observed 2 clues in the instruction phase and during the walking phase Deputy Burnette observed the following clues: MISS HEEL TO TOE, STEPS OFF LINE, IMPROPER NUMBER OF STEPS (7/9), IMPROPER TURN, AND STOPS WHILE WALKING. The total amount of clues observed are (7/8).

Deputy Burnette went into the third evaluation known as the ONE LEG STAND. Deputy Burnette had the offender get into the starting position. During this evaluation the offender began getting confrontational with deputies. After a few moments of not listening to directions and criticizing deputies, Deputy Burnette determined the offender was not going to complete the evaluation and placed the offender under arrest.

Deputy Burnette placed the offender in handcuffs. Once the handcuffs were on the offender, the offender pulled away from deputies and started backing up. Deputy Burnette gained positive control of the offender and as he pulled away, Deputy Burnette pinned the offender against his patrol car in order to keep the offender from fleeing, and to keep the offender from potentially getting hit in traffic due to being intoxicated.

The offender continued to use his lower body in an attempt to push away from deputies. Investigator Walker assisted in gaining control and walking the offender to his patrol car. Once at the patrol car the offender refused to get in the patrol car. Deputies got the offender in the patrol car and was able to close the door. The offender was still screaming and cursing at deputies.

Deputy Burnette went to make sure his two kids were okay due to the witnessing their father acting the way he did and to try and comfort them. The children didn’t know their mothers phone number but was able to get their dads phone opened and tried to call multiple family members to come and get them.

Deputies then tried to talk with the offender to make arraignments for his kids. This outraged the offender which caused the offender to become more combative. Deputy Burnette heard the commotion and went to assist Investigator Walker. The offender was sitting on the ground and refusing to get up and back into the vehicle.

Investigator Walker picked the offender up by his upper body and Deputy Burnette controlled the offenders’ legs. Once back inside the patrol car, the offender stuck his foot in the door wedge refusing to move it. The offender would also push against the door with it to keep the door from closing.

Multiple families were trying to leave the parking lot and Investigator Walker went to move the patrol car with Deputy Burnette maintaining control of the offender to keep him safe. As Investigator Walker got in the front seat, Deputy Burnette observed the offender attention turn to him and Deputy Burnette was able to get the offender leg pushed into the car enough to shut the door without him getting harmed.

Contact with the kids’ mother was made and she responded to the scene. She stated this isn’t the first time that this has happened and that every time the offender gets drunk, he thinks he can do whatever he wants because his cousin is a Jackson County Deputy. The offender made multiple comments about how he was a deputy in Jackson County and how his sheriff was going to fire Banks County deputies. The two kids (3yo daughter, 7yo Son) were turned over to their mother.

Workers from Appleebees approached Deputy Burnette and informed him that the offender was kicked out earlier due to him and his friend being extremely drunk with the kids inside. The offender was transported to the jail. During the whole way to the jail, the offender continued to make threats of beating up deputies and cursing at them.

Once at the jail, the offender was searched and assisted to a controlled position on the floor in order to safely remove handcuffs and to avoid a potential incident. Handcuffs were removed and the offender was given a mat and food in order to assist in helping him sober up. Due to the offender being confrontation, Implied consent was read at the jail with a non verbal refusal.

Deputy Burnette charged the offender with DUI, DUI Child Endangerment X2, No Insurance, Suspended Tag, Failure to Maintain Lane, and Obstruction X2.

[End of Narrative]