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GARY — Jamal Washington was back in handcuffs after he barricaded himself inside a home he shares with Gary councilwoman and mayoral candidate LaVetta Sparks-Wade earlier Wednesday, a Gary city official and law enforcement officials have confirmed.

Lake County Jail records show Washington was arrested by Gary police at 9:51 a.m. Wednesday.

He was booked into the Lake County Jail at 8 p.m. Wednesday after a full day in the custody of Gary police for questioning, jail records and police sources confirmed.

Though not yet formally charged, Washington was being held on probable cause for domestic battery, criminal confinement and intimidation, jail records show.

Sparks-Wade — a steadfast political supporter of Washington — suffered an injury in the domestic incident that prompted a large police presence at her home.

Washington — twice-convicted for past domestic violence involving female family members — allegedly barricaded himself inside the home in the 3900 block of Martin Luther King Drive, according to officials.

The 45-year-old embattled ex-Lake County councilman and current Gary City Council candidate was arrested and transported to the city’s Police Department for questioning.

Washington was still being questioned by Gary police as of early Wednesday evening.

When contacted by The Times, Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez confirmed county and city police responded Wednesday morning to Sparks-Wade’s residence to "conduct a welfare check on an individual.”

Martinez described it as a “domestic situation.”

Washington’s arrest Wednesday morning comes less than two months after Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Thode sentenced him in connection with his conviction for battering a female cousin.

The judge sentenced Washington to 180 days at the Lake County Jail, but suspended all but time already served to be spent on unsupervised probation.  

Special prosecutor Stanley M. Levco, of Evansville, who is handling Washington’s most recent case, told The Times he was made aware of the arrest and that it would be his responsibility to prosecute any alleged violation. He said he will check with the Lake County probation department when it reopens Friday.

Gary police Cmdr. Jack Hamady said he did not expect charges to be filed Wednesday due to the Lake County government's closure due to weather.

Because of his status as a past public official and current candidate for Gary city council, Washington will be held in isolation at the jail for his own protection, Martinez said.

Washington announced earlier this month he was back on the campaign trail, filing paperwork to put his name on the May 7 ballot as a Democratic candidate for one of the three at-large seats on the Gary City Council.

Washington previously told The Times he moved from his previous residence on Connecticut Street in Merrillville's Hilldale subdivision, where he twice was involved in domestic assaults, to Sparks-Wade’s home in Gary's Glen Park neighborhood to gain city residency status.

The two have long been political allies, appearing together on a near-daily basis on Facebook live broadcasts to discuss Gary and Lake County politics, corruption and their individual election platforms.

Washington served four years as the 3rd District Lake County councilman, representing residents in Merrillville, parts of Gary, Lake Station and Schererville.

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Washington opted last year to forgo another term on the County Council. Instead, he challenged Lake County Commissioner Kyle Allen, who handily defeated Washington in the 2018 primary.

Previous incidents

A number of legal scandals have dogged Washington over the years.

Washington's name has appeared four times since 2009 on the Indiana Protective Order Registry, listing court orders forbidding him contact with persons who alleged in court they were in fear of him.

One arose over allegations of domestic violence that prompted Merrillville police to arrest Washington Dec. 3, 2015, for the alleged assault of his wife and a female employee. Washington pleaded guilty in 2016 to battering his wife and was placed on probation. The charges involving the other woman later were dropped.

Washington had to serve 15 days in jail for violating his probation after Merrillville police arrested Washington again Dec. 8, 2017, for the battery of his 24-year-old cousin.

Washington pleaded not guilty and demanded a jury trial, which took place late last year.

A seven-woman, five-man jury convicted Washington Nov. 14 of misdemeanor battery and interference with reporting a crime for the assault on his cousin, but acquitted him of more serious felony counts of battery, criminal confinement and intimidation.

Gary Councilwoman Carolyn Rogers, D-4, said while she’s not familiar with the details of Wednesday's incident, Washington has shown a pattern of behavior unsuitable for a city councilman, let alone a candidate running for public office.

"Personally, I would not want to see anyone of that character on the council," Rogers said.

Rogers is not running for re-election for Gary City Council.

Gary mayoral candidate Kerry Rice Sr. told The Times he had seen something about Wednesday's incident on social media, but had no comment about it.

Robert Buggs Sr., a candidate for one of the three at-large seats on the Gary Common Council, said he hadn't heard about it. He said he had earlier asked Washington about whether he lived in Merrillville or Gary, and Washington said he had moved to Gary.

Jayson Reeves, a candidate for an at-large council seat, said he didn't know about the incident, but considers domestic violence to be a serious issue.

Councilman Herb Smith said he was unaware of the incident.

Washington couldn't be reached for comment. Sparks-Wade could not be immediately reached for comment.

Check back at nwi.com for updates to this story.

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Northlake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.

Lake County Reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.