An East Texas family has answers that they've spent two and a half years looking for. But those answers haven't brought them the peace or closure they need.
In November of 2011, we told you about Kevin Jones. He was killed in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 20. The person driving the wrong way on the interstate had a blood alcohol concentration equal to point .152 -- nearly twice the legal limit to be behind the wheel.
However, this was only the beginning of the family's battle to know the truth about Jones' death.
One of the things that makes this fatal crash so tragic is that a DPS trooper stopped the drunk driver 40 minutes before the wreck, but did not arrest him. What's worse is that Jones' family made this startling discovery on their own. They requested dash camera video of the crash investigation so they could place a memorial sign at the crash site in Jones' memory. This is what they heard on that dash camera video:
Trooper Leland Borden: I'm feeling bad right now. I stopped him 40 minutes ago. Unidentified Trooper : Did you? Trooper Borden: Yeah. Unidentified Trooper: What was wrong with him? Trooper Borden: No license. Smelled a little alcohol on him, but I couldn't --- ya know --- wasn't nothing. I couldn't smell a lot on him, ya know? Trooper Borden: I was tryin' to get him to call somebody and he tried calling somebody and nobody came. Do you sit there waiting on somebody to call --- ya know? So I left, but I feel bad right now, ya know?
Jones' family wanted to see for themselves what happened when the trooper stopped the drunk driver, but that video remained hidden for two and a half years. DPS refused to hand the video over for Jones' family to see until KLTV finally won the rights to it for them. Monday, we sat down with Jones' mother and sister as they watched the dash camera video they've waited years to see.
Martha Chavis and Renea Jones came to KLTV 7 looking for answers about their loved one, Kevin Jones', death. They'd spent years fighting the Department of Public Safety and asked for our help. After nine months of our own struggle with DPS, KLTV 7 finally got the video that Jones' family wanted to see. We showed it to them before airing the video publicly Wednesday night.
Kevin's sister, Renea, and his mother, Martha, sat in silence watching DPS Trooper Leland Borden pull over Pedro Rodriguez. Rodriguez is the drunk driver who would go on to hit and kill Kevin Jones in a head-on collision 40 minutes later.
Jones' family saw the trooper start a field sobriety test, but they never saw him finish it.
Trooper Borden: Follow with your eyes and your eyes only, okay? Don't move your head Pedro Rodriguez: Okay Trooper Borden: Look here... look... watch it... watch it right here. Never mind. Stay right there
"Never mind? What?!" exclaims Renea.
Then, Martha and Renea watched the trooper spend two minutes trying to get Rodriguez to call a friend to pick him up.
"You call somebody or you go to jail," says Trooper Borden.
To them, one of the most shocking discoveries was in the trooper's finals words to the drunk driver.
"You can't drive, ok? You can spend the night right there then. I don't care," says Trooper Borden before he walks away from the drunk driver standing on the side of the interstate.
"Are you kidding me? Did he just tell him that?," asks Renea in shock.
When the video suddenly cut off at the end, Martha and Renea weren't convinced that was all there was to see.
"There's more to this," says Martha.
They've been waiting years to see the video that explains how the drunk driver that killed their loved one was let back on the road.
"I didn't see [the trooper] do his job at all. At all. He did not protect my brother, and he did not protect that man right there. That's for sure," says Renea.
Renea says the video is hard to believe.
"It does make me angrier... as if I could get any more angry. What really bothers me right now, like I said, is that he's still out there in a patrol car," she says.
According to state law enforcement records, that trooper is still a trooper with the Department of Public Safety. Those same law enforcement records also show that he completed 51 credit hours of Spanish for Law Enforcement in 2008. Kevin's mother, Martha, says the dash camera video reveals something truly sad.
"It's really sad... in a lot of ways. How many times has this happened before? ...that no one knows about.... that no one will ever know about?" asks Martha.
"I don't know if it was laziness or what, but he didn't do his job," says Renea.
As much as the video hurt to watch, both Martha and Renea say they want everyone to see it. They know that it was the drunk driver, Pedro Rodriguez, who killed their loved one, but they can't help but feel like both deaths could have been prevented.
"I not only lost my brother that night, but that individual lost his life that night. He could have saved two lives that night," says Renea.
The video was not the key to the closure they've been looking for, but they're now more confident than ever that there's something there worth fighting for.
"It's still not over. It's a long ways from being over. Someone on their side, in a higher position maybe, needs to take a stand and recognize what's on that video and explain it," says Martha.
Wednesday night when we spoke to Martha by phone, she said, "I'm ready to be done with my anger so I can grieve for my son and move forward." She said, "I feel like I'm stuck in anger and I'm going to be stuck here until someone says they're sorry."
Acknowledgement that this situation should have been handled differently, an apology and reassurance that something like this isn't going to happen again is really what Martha and Renea are looking for. The Department of Public Safety and the attorneys representing the trooper say they cannot make any comment about what happened.
During KLTV 7's fight for the dash camera video, DPS said that the trooper was not disciplined regarding this incident. One of their arguments for keeping the video from the public was that the video was considered confidential as long as the trooper was not disciplined. DPS defined "discipline" as being suspended, demoted or terminated.
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