Video shows talk show host inside gay bar on night of hit-and-run

HOUSTON - New witnesses have stepped forward to say they saw a talk show host behind the wheel after a hit-and-run crash outside a popular gay bar, and Local 2 Investigates has obtained video from inside the bar that is now in the hands of police.

Houston police obtained video from inside T.C.'s Show Bar on Converse and Fairview in the Montrose to confirm that the conservative activist was inside the club around the time of the Jan. 31 hit-and-run outside the club.

"Videos don't lie. They don't paint pictures that don't exist," said Tuderia Bennett, whose car was damaged in the hit and run. "I want my money more than anything else."

The video that was provided to police was obtained by Local 2 Investigates on Thursday afternoon, and it shows a whisker-faced Michael Berry wearing a jacket as he walked into the show bar during a featured drag show event.

The video shows him ordering a beer and walking down a hall to the restroom on two trips.

Bennett told police he saw the crash and wrote down the license number, and he also told police he could positively identify Berry as being the man behind the wheel.  Bennett told police he rushed up to the SUV that hit his car right after impact and flashed the beam of his flashlight into the window.

Police officers assigned to the case told Local 2 Investigates that prosecutors from the Harris County District Attorney's Office declined to file hit-and-run charges against Berry, saying that no one could positively identify him as being behind the wheel.

Bennett calls that a cover-up. 

"I'd say that's the government at work. I mean that's corruption at its best," he said.

The DA's office would not comment about the case.

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland was also tight-lipped Thursday, saying, "Until we have a named suspect or are ready to charge someone, it would be inappropriate for me to mention any possible suspect."

Michael Berry, a former Houston City Council member and a conservative talk show host on 740 KTRH has declined to comment to Local 2 Investigates, emailing that he does not respond to such things.

On his radio broadcast Thursday, which was posted online as a podcast, Berry alluded to the controversy.

"I've always said when you do what I do, the way I do it, you make enemies. When you poke your finger in as many people's eye as I do every day, you make enemies," said Berry.

He said that his detractors "will accuse you of most anything" and he added, "You have to trust that in the end, the system works itself out, that there are checks and balances, there are people who will verify. But you also recognize that there are some people who want you to be crushed. There's some people who hate you.  There are some people who privately would benefit from you not being on the air."

He said he does not respond to reporters who question him "on their turf" because it is subject to editing.  However, at no point in his broadcast did he deny being behind the wheel and at no point did he address his presence in the club.

"You simply cannot go out there and chase down every nasty thing that is said about you.  Just because someone says something nasty about you doesn't make it true," he said.

The club manager at T.C.'s Show Bar and several other witnesses came forward to Local 2 Investigates on Thursday, saying that they also told police they saw Berry behind the wheel moments after the hit and run crash.

Police and prosecutors have not addressed why those statements are not enough to file charges in this case.

Bennett, the hit-and-run victim, said he suspects the former councilman is cashing in his political clout because of his involvement with a gay bar.

"If you're going to stand up and say anti-gay things and be conservative and be Mr. Good Guy, and then when something happens that points you out and puts you in a place with the exact business that you aim to shut down, it kind of makes it seem like I need this to go away and I need it to go away quickly," said Bennett.

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