Waller PD responds to criticism over crash that injured several cyclists

Bicycle spokes
Bicycle spokes (Pixabay)(Pixabay)
Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 6:11 AM CDT
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WALLER, Texas (KBTX) - The Waller Police Department is responding to criticism over how it has handled an incident where a teenage driver allegedly hit a group of bicyclists last month.

Many have questioned why the 17-year-old driver was never charged with a crime.

On Thursday, the Waller police chief posted on the Waller PD Facebook page that the case was “mishandled” and is being addressed “internally.”

All of the cyclists survived, but some suffered serious injuries.

The full statement is below:

My name is Bill Llewellyn, and I am the Chief of Police at the Waller Police Department. I am proud to be the chief in Waller and I am immensely proud of the officers that work for me. My department has recently been receiving an abundance of criticism regarding an incident that occurred on September 25th, 2021. The incident involved a crash that involved several cyclists and a pick-up truck on Business Hwy 290, just outside the city limits of Waller. This incident is currently an active case, so I will not be commenting on specifics pertinent to criminal charges or elements of a crime. I would however, like to clarify some misperceptions that have been presented on social media recently.

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.

Another complaint has been that I have not responded to the numerous complaints that have been posted on social media. My reason for that has been that almost all of the complaints have been from individuals that live in another state and have absolutely no involvement in the incident, nor are they citizens of Waller. Most of the comments have been offensive, demeaning or threatening and I have no desire to become involved in an exchange with people that possess that mentality. However, recently comments have been made by the head of a local office and portions of his statements are misleading or incorrect and I will take this opportunity to present factual information.

DPS Trooper Nancy Mata responded to the scene of the accident and her assistance was greatly appreciated. Her knowledge and efforts at the scene were instrumental in ensuring that the required information was obtained and documented for use in any future proceedings. Her conduct was just another example of how well the area law enforcement agencies work together to support one another and prioritize public service to the citizens of Waller County.

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 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.

The Waller investigator began coordinating our efforts with the Waller County D.A.’s office on the 28th of September. This included contact with the D.A.’s investigator, as well as ADA Diepraam.

At this time, the Waller P.D. investigator continues to coordinate with he D.A.’s office to ensure that we are doing everything required to achieve a successful prosecution if necessary.

All paperwork, recordings, statements, and other information generated by the Waller Police Department is in the possession of the District Attorney’s Office. I would like to state that the ADA’s and investigators from the D.A.’s office have been extremely helpful and affable.

The only other subjects to which I wish to respond include comments regarding the officer’s indifference to the cyclist and rumors of influence by city officials.

Many of the comments posted on social media accuse police officers, in general, of not being concerned with the welfare of the cyclists. Please remember that these men and women have dedicated their entire work lives to protect the safety and welfare of the citizens that they serve. Because officers use a sense of humor as a protective measure and because they have to prioritize their mission over sentiment, they are often accused of being insensitive. Nothing could be further from the truth and most officers feel a sense of failure when a citizen is injured or victimized within their area of responsibility.

The other comment that is mentioned involves “criminal interference.” Waller is a small town that anticipates a great deal of growth in the very near future. With that in mind, the city officials have been planning for that growth at every opportunity. This includes infrastructure and other physical improvements, as well as philosophical changes. I am not from the Houston area and when I interviewed for the position of Police Chief two years ago, I made it very clear that I have no “good ole boy” traits and that I believe in treating everyone fairly and equitably. The Waller City Counsel not only supports that philosophy, they demand that philosophy and have always encouraged me to handle all situations professionally, without regard to who is involved.

I will state unequivocally that I have never met any of the parties involved in the crash incident and I have not received any influence from any member of city administration regarding this incident.

Waller Police Department will continue to strive to provide the very best police services that we can to our citizens. We benefit from very strong community support, and I do not wish to see that support effected by misinformation. We are a small agency but are making every effort to develop expertise within our department. This endeavor takes time and opportunity, and we will inevitably make mistakes along the way, but we will attempt to learn from each mistake and the end result will be a stronger and more responsive police department.

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