Family of father killed in crash sues off-duty officer involved, strip club

Officer James Combs driving vehicle that killed Brian Manring, investigators say

By Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor, Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - The family of a man killed in a head-on crash with a vehicle driven by an off-duty Houston police officer has filed a lawsuit against the officer and the strip club where he was allegedly drinking before the fatal wreck.

But a critical point in the lawsuit, filed late Thursday, that alleges employees at the 'Show Palace' Gentleman's Club, over-served the off-duty officer, may be challenged in court.

The 'Show Palace' does not actually serve alcohol to patrons, at least not legally. Instead, patrons bring their own alcohol to consume on the premises.

Whether that point will have an impact on the success of the lawsuit, remains to be seen.

Neither representatives for the victim's family nor representatives for the Club offered further clarification Friday.

The crash happened Aug. 12 on Beechnut Street near F.M. Road 1464 in Fort Bend County.

Investigators said a sport utility vehicle driven by Houston police Officer James Combs, 33, swerved into the oncoming lane, and slammed head-on into the sports car driven by 36-year-old Brian Manring, then rolled over it. Manring was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to investigators, a blood test showed Combs' blood-alcohol level was 0.17 - more than twice the legal limit.

Combs later turned himself in and was charged with intoxication manslaughter.

Attorney Randy Sorrels, who represents Manring's parents, said Friday they have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Combs and the strip club where Combs had been drinking before the crash.

"While the family is extraordinarily distraught and still grieving, they understand drunk driving deaths occur far too frequently in our community," Sorrels said in a written statement. "We intend to hold all of those responsible for Brian Manring’s death accountable and hope this action helps prevent future drunk driving tragedies."

Combs has worked for the Houston Police Department for six years. He has been relieved of duty, pending the outcome of an investigation by the department's internal affairs division.

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