PEARLAND, Texas - The Houston Police Department has launched an internal affairs investigation into an officer accused of letting Amber Willemsen go free after reports that she may have been driving drunk and caused a hit-and-run crash in June 2015.
Willemsen is the woman who was sentenced to 32 years in prison for driving drunk and killing Pearland police Officer Endy Ekpanya in June 2016.
Willemsen received her sentence Thursday.
The woman who said Willemsen hit her car in 2015 and then took off, spoke exclusively to KPRC.
"I was coming home from work. I was driving on 290 and all of a sudden, I just got hit out of nowhere and hit again," Carmen Waldron said. "She did drive off."
Waldron said she made an exit off the highway and found Amber Willemsen's car stopped on the road and recognized it as the car that hit her. According to Waldron, Willemsen was driving drunk.
"I pulled over and asked her if she was OK and she was like, 'No, I'm not,'" said Waldron. "She's like, 'I hit somebody!' and I said, 'Yeah, it was me. I just found you and want to make sure you're OK.' And she said, 'Don't call the police!' and I said, 'I have to.'"
According to a police report, an officer came to the scene.
It does not appear as though the officer gave Willemsen a field-sobriety test.
"He did put her in cuffs for like 10 minutes then he took her out of cuffs," Waldron said. "I said, 'Are you taking her to jail? Is she going to jail or something?' He said, 'She's not drunk enough to go to jail, she's not drunk enough to test her. I'm just going to give her a ride home and she's getting a lot of tickets.' That's what I was told."
Waldron told Channel 2 she did not want to become confrontational with the police officer.
"She seemed really drunk and I know because I was coming from my job as a bartender. When you get TABC certified, you learn to tell when people are drunk, when they've been drinking," Waldron said. "As soon as you opened the door, you could smell it."
During Willemsen's trial, the prosecutor addressed testimony in court that the HPD officer in the 2015 hit-and-run case had instead taken Willemsen to a restaurant to "sober up."
"If in fact an officer did that, it's very disappointing." said Houston police Chief Art Acevedo. "It's an open investigation. That's all I can say about it."
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