Attorney Asks for New Way to Investigate Fatality Accidents - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/27/05

Attorney Asks for New Way to Investigate Fatality Accidents

Callie Long's intoxication manslaughter trial is raising new concerns about the way Lubbock police investigate accidents.

A Lubbock jury found Long guilty but Prosecuting Attorney Rob Hobson says the verdict was a lucky one. The officer on the scene the night Brett Walrath was hit, resigned from the Lubbock Police Department last January and never showed up to testify, just one reason Hobson says, Lubbock needs an Accident Investigation Team.

Right now, LPD has 14 qualified accident investigators, but they do not have a unit that focuses solely on fatal accidents. Hobson said, "Their failure caused a lot of problems for the judicial system. Both Hurley and I were mad because we both had to work harder, and we both had to hire experts to try and re-piece what they should've done to begin with."

The prosecution spent $8,000 on an accident reconstruction expert. The defense spent $30,000 on its expert. During the trial, both attorneys said that the police report was missing witness statements, the point of impact, possible speed limits, and measurements. Hobson said, "I think we need a professional unit where all they do is investigate accidents. It would be justified by the number of fatality accidents we have here in Lubbock."

NewsChannel 11 asked the Lubbock Police Department if they need to change the way they do investigations. Captain of the Patrol Division, Neal Brumley said, "No. Unfortunately Davis (the accident investigator the night of the crash) did not show up to the trial where a lot of questions could've been answered. But I know our guys are doing the best job they can do."

Brumley also said that he is pleased with the work done by the investigators. "Normally there's more than one on duty. They help each other out, and that's just the beginning. They spend as much time as they need to make sure it's done right."

We asked three other surrounding cities about how they handle accident investigations; Abilene said they have the same system as Lubbock with having qualified accident investigators on every shift, but Midland and Amarillo both have a separate accident investigation unit. Mayor Marc McDougal said the idea has never been brought up in the seven years he's been on the council, but they would be willing to look into it it's brought to their attention.

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