Ex-Houston officer charged in crash that killed single father appears at court

By Lea Wilson - Digital News Editor, Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor

RICHMOND, Texas - A former Houston police officer who was charged in a deadly crash that killed a father of a 6-year-old in Fort Bend County in August appeared in court Monday.

Police said Officer James Combs, 33, was legally drunk when he slammed his SUV into a sports car, killing the driver, according to police.

Brian Manring, 36, was in his Chevy Corvette about 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 12 headed eastbound on Beechnut near FM 1464 when the off-duty officer's much heavier Chevy Tahoe hit the sports car head-on, investigators said.

According to police, Combs swerved into the oncoming lane, and slammed into Manring, causing the Corvette to roll over.  Manring was pronounced dead at the scene. He was the father of a 6-year-old girl.

Combs initially refused a sobriety test  at the scene. When he was later tested, his blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.17, more than twice the legal limit for intoxication, according to the sheriff.

The arrest affidavit said that on the day of the crash, Combs' wife told his HPD supervisor that her husband has a drinking problem, and that an online credit card statement showed he used his card that day at a strip club called the “Show Palace.”

Investigators subpoenaed the blood work that was taken at the hospital where Combs was checked after the crash. They got those results within 48 hours. 
 
"If you enter Fort Bend County drinking and driving and you cause a motor vehicle crash - which takes the life of another Fort Bend County resident - I don't care what your occupation is," Nehls said.

Despite criticism from some, the sheriff's office maintains no one was given special treatment at the scene.

Combs was a six-year veteran of HPD. He worked at the Midwest patrol division.

Combs was arrested at his home in Richmond by Fort Bend County deputies. He was charged with intoxication manslaughter with a vehicle, a second-degree felony.

Combs was being held in jail on $100,000 bond. The conditions of his bond state that while awaiting trial he cannot have a weapon, he must wear an electronic-ankle monitor, and must submit to regular drug and alcohol testing.

During Monday's hearing, a judge reset the proceedings for Jan. 27 at 1:30 p.m.

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