Vikings defensive back Jayron Kearse was pulled over while driving drunk and had in the car with him a semiautomatic handgun loaded with more than two dozen rounds and a teammate among his two passengers, according to charges filed Tuesday.
Kearse, 25, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with carrying a gun without a permit, a gross misdemeanor, and four misdemeanor counts: possessing a gun while under the influence of alcohol, two counts of drunken driving and careless driving in connection with him being stopped on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis over the weekend after a state trooper spotted him going around a construction barrier.
Kearse was arrested at the scene early Sunday and released from jail that afternoon after posting bond. On Monday, he told reporters that his arrest is "not a reflection of who I am as a person or what this organization stands for. ... I'm sorry for putting anybody in harm's way."
Also in the car with Kearse were two passengers, one of them teammate and fellow defensive back Mike Hughes, Patrol Lt. Gordon Shank said Tuesday. Hughes was intoxicated to the point of becoming ill during the traffic stop, according to the criminal complaint against Kearse.
According to the charges:
About 3:15 a.m. Sunday, a trooper posted near I-94 and Cedar Avenue to protect construction workers saw Kearse's eastbound Mercedes-Benz and two other vehicles enter the construction zone. He had all three pull over.
The trooper approached Kearse's vehicle and smelled "the very strong odor of alcohol coming from inside," the complaint read. Hughes and a 29-year-old woman from Minneapolis were with Kearse.
Kearse's eyes were "bloodshot and glossy," the complaint continued. Once out of his vehicle, Kearse appeared unsteady as he walked toward the trooper's squad car. He was given and failed a preliminary breath test at the scene, prompting his arrest.
Kearse was given another breath test at the jail about 90 minutes after being pulled over and it measured his blood alcohol content at 0.10%, above the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
A second trooper went to the vehicle where it was pulled over to check on the male passenger, Hughes. He had the door open and was throwing up.
The trooper spotted a 9-millimeter Glock handgun on the right rear floorboard near Hughes' feet. It was loaded with 28 rounds and one in the chamber. Hughes said the gun was not his and didn't know it was there.
In a law enforcement interview, Kearse said he had been at the Gold Room in downtown Minneapolis and had four drinks. He also said he carries the gun for protection and acknowledged not having a permit to carry it in public.
Kearse is in his fourth NFL season. The Vikings chose him in the seventh round of the 2016 draft out of Clemson.
He has played in all but one regular-season game for the Vikings since joining the team and has started in two of the team's eight games this season.
The Vikings were off Sunday, having played Thursday. Their next game is Sunday at Kansas City. The team has yet to say whether Kearse will be active for the game.
As a 14-year-old in 2008, Kearse was among several others in his home city of Fort Myers, Fla., who robbed two females at gunpoint at their victims' residence.