A Republican city councilman from Rhode Island is facing calls to resign after police found him Monday passed out and seemingly “choking” in his car with a crack pipe in his hand.
Cranston City Council member Matthew R. Reilly was found sleeping in the vehicle just before noon, according to a police statement and bodycam footage of the incident.
Video shows Reilly, 41, being shaken awake by an officer who says: “You were literally choking in your sleep. Someone was flagging me down about it.”
“I have sleep apnea. I’m sorry,” Reilly says, to which the officer replies: “Well, you have a crack pipe in your hands.”
Reilly initially denied having drugs in his car, telling officers he smoked “earlier” and was heading to work at Family Court.
After police found crack cocaine in the vehicle’s center console, Reilly admitted to having relapsed after 13 years of sobriety, in part because of a “really bad divorce.”
The councilman admitted he had a problem and was getting help.
“If you’re getting help, what happened?” one of the officers asked.
In the video, police can be seen testing the crack found in Reilly’s vehicle, which contained fentanyl.
The driver’s seat of the car was coated in white residue, and officers in the video mentioned a burning smell.
“This is a terrible situation, we’re all in a tough spot, but we gotta do what we gotta do by the numbers. It’ll help you in the end, … and you’ll say to us a month from now, ‘Best thing that ever happened to me,’” one of the officers said to Reilly.
“I look at you, you’re not the Matt Reilly we know,” the officer added. “Your health and your well-being is worth more than your political career.”
Reilly has already stepped down as chairman of the Cranston Republican Party at the behest of Mayor Kenneth J. Hopkins, the Boston Globe reported.
Hopkins, who is also a Republican, said in a statement that he has known Reilly and his family his entire life, and urged the councilman to step down from his role.
“By relieving himself of his elective duties, Matt will have time to focus his attentions on his personal well-being. It will allow him to focus on his family, away from the important responsibilities and spotlight of public office,” the mayor said.
City Council President Jessica Marino, a Democrat, told the newspaper she also wanted Reilly to resign “for his sake, for that of his family and for the city as a whole.”
“Anyone that is going through the situation, my thoughts of his overall well-being as a human is first and foremost, and that of his family,” she said. “Politics should not be a priority in the situation that he’s currently facing.”
Reilly is charged with unlawful possession of crack cocaine/fentanyl, which is a misdemeanor. He was released ahead of his arriangment on June 15.
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