WALLER COUNTY, Texas – The Waller County District Attorney said the Waller Police Department mishandled its investigation into the teen driver who struck a group of cyclists in late September.
“This case was not handled appropriately by the investigating agency. PERIOD,” Waller County District Attorney Elton R. Mathis wrote in a lengthy social media post Monday.
“Despite being encouraged by the Texas Department of Public Safety to treat the scene as a crime scene and to contact the D.A.’s Office for advice on how to proceed, the investigating agency chose not to do so,” wrote Mathis.
The Waller Police Department recently completed its investigation into the incident and turned the case over to the Waller County DA’s office. Mathis assigned a Special Prosecutor to the case.
At about 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, a 16-year-old in a pickup truck struck six cyclists in the 41800 block of Business U.S. 290. All six cyclists suffered injuries in the crash. Four were transported by ambulance and two were transported via Life Flight to a local hospital.
The attorneys representing the cyclists said their clients suffered a range of injuries, including broken vertebrae, cervical and lumbar spinal injuries, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, lacerations, road rash and severe bruising.
According to a crash report, the driver was intentionally blowing exhaust while reaching for his cellphone when he struck the cyclists.
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Officers with the Waller Police Department were called the scene. The officers did not take statements from the cyclists at the scene of the crash or at the hospitals to which they were transported, the cyclists’ attorneys said. As of Oct. 11, no charges have been filed against the teen driver.
In a Sept. 28 social media post, Mathis stressed that the teen would receive “no favorable or unfavorable treatment based upon who his family may or may not be.”
“We reiterate, THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS CASE that involves a juvenile and six individuals that thankfully are not deceased at this time,” Mathis wrote. “We hear your complaints, we understand your frustration, but this case WILL BE THOROUGHLY reviewed and justice will be done.”
View Waller County District Attorney Elton R. Mathis’ full Oct. 11 statement below.
It has been 16 days now since six innocent bicyclists were run over by a motorist in Waller County. This office tried to refrain from passing any judgment until we could gather information about what happened at the scene. As previously stated, we did not get professionally or formally notified of the occurrence at the time of the event, but found out via social media. Now, we are able to share a small part of our opinions as the case investigation progresses and questions continue to arise as to how the D.A.’s office will proceed.
1) This case was not handled appropriately by the investigating agency. PERIOD. Despite being encouraged by the Texas Department of Public Safety to treat the scene as a crime scene and to contact the D.A.’s Office for advice on how to proceed, the investigating agency chose not to do so. The actions of the Texas Department of Public Safety on scene were professional and we are thankful they were there to assist. We are also working with the Waller County Sheriff’s Office to gather the evidence they are able to provide as they arrived on scene to backup Waller P.D. Sheriff Guidry has been most helpful in this regard.
2) There has been some online and community speculation that the incident was handled in the manner it was because of connections between the motorist and Waller city officials. At this point we can confirm there are some connections, but have yet to see evidence of a city official directing the officer on the scene as to how to handle this particular situation. We will continue to look for any such criminal interference as the investigation proceeds.
3) Attorneys for the victims have been more than helpful in assisting this office with seeking justice. Our lines of communication are open and the victims questions are being answered as they arise even though we know they would prefer a faster decision-making process.
4) All sides of this matter (the juvenile, the adult passenger, their families, the victims and their friends/families) can be assured that this case is not being swept away as the days pass, and attorneys for both boys are being cooperative at this time. This will not be a lynching and likewise it will not be a case of small county politics making problems just go away.
5) Finally, we ask that all of our community members and bicyclists that come here to continue to be respectful of one another, share the roads and abide by the laws. This is not the time for finger pointing at groups or making assumptions about people based on their choices in sports or residency. The world is already filled with too much hate and we can do our part as a community (that includes its cyclists and farmers alike) to ensure that justice is done in the courtroom and not on the side of the road. The world is watching all of us. Let’s be the example that it needs to see.
Thanks to all of you for your continued patience.
Waller County District Attorney Elton R. Mathis