The chief of police in Waller, Texas has responded to allegations made by the county’s district attorney about the case of the teenager who ran over six cyclists. The DA had accused the police of mishandling the investigation and Police Chief Bill Llewellyn admitted that the DA’s accusation was true, but the chief claims it was because of a “lack of knowledge” within his department.
The police chief also claimed there was no nepotism involved. He denies that the investigation was mishandled because of the teen’s connections with Waller city officials. From the police chief:
It has been stated that our agency mishandled the initial investigation of the crash scene. That is true. A large part of being professional, is being accountable. The scene was not managed in a manner that is acceptable to me, however; none of the deficiencies that have been identified were due to poor policy or procedure within the department, nor were they influenced by who was involved in the crash or any other personal associations. To put it quite simply, they were due to a lack of knowledge on our part and those shortcomings are being dealt with internally and will not be repeated.
The chief went on to refute the DA’s comments in detail, beginning with the PD’s failure to notify the district attorney of the incident:
A Waller police supervisor that arrived on scene did attempt to contact the Waller County District Attorney’s office on call Assistant District Attorney. Upon receiving no answer, he then attempted to contact the next individual on the contact list but received no answer at that number either. Admittedly, the sergeant failed to leave a message, but contact was attempted. My sergeant was counseled regarding failing to leave a message, but I would also suggest that if the office head wishes to decrease his frustration, he should recommend to his employees that they answer their phone when “on call.”
The chief followed up with a response regarding the timeline of the crash report, claiming that its submission was timely according to Texas law:
The Texas Transportation Code requires that all crash reports be submitted within 10 days of occurrence. The referenced crash report was submitted on the 27th of September, two days after the crash.
The initial offense report was completed on the 28th of September.
All paperwork, recordings, statements, and other information generated by the Waller Police Department is in the possession of the District Attorney’s Office.
But the chief did not respond to the DA’s comment about the police’s failure to treat the location as a crime scene.
After a statement from the teenager’s attorney appeared, the cyclist’s legal team put their own statement out, which cites the crash report submitted by one of the officers from the Waller PD. In that crash report, Officer Charles Mistric claimed the teenager was reaching for his phone when he ran over the cyclists:
Officer Mistric went on to say that the “driver stated that he was reaching for his cell phone to call his dad and struck the bicyclists before he could react.” Given what we know from the eye-witness testimony from one of the cyclists who was assaulted by the teenage driver immediately before he drove his truck into the 6 bicyclists and the testimony of several others, we do not find the driver’s or Mistric’s statements to be credible at all. Additionally, Texas law does not allow for any driver under the age of 18 to use a hand held device while operating a motor vehicle.
The Bike Law statement also disclosed that the teen had a passenger riding in the Ford pickup, now identified as an F-250. The 16-year old driver was accompanied by a 17-year old passenger, according to the attorneys:
We know the identity of his passenger (a local 17 year old male from a neighboring town) and a pretty good idea about the role he may have played in causing the crash that sent ALL of our clients to the hospital; 2 by Life Flight, 2 by ambulance, 2 by personal transport. (Texas licensing provisions allow for licensed drivers between the ages of 16-17 to lawfully operate a motor vehicle with no more than 1 non-family member passenger who is under the age of 21 at a time.)
It’s unclear why the teen’s attorney, Rick DeToto, didn’t mention the passenger or the cell phone when citing the teen’s inexperience as a driver.