The Karnes Countywide submitted an open records request to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) on July 22 in order to review and possibly report what was specifically said by then Chief Deputy Russell Swize at the scene of an accident on June 3 near Falls City.
DPS responded to the request stating that the video could not be publicly released any sooner than Aug. 19 as time is needed to redact any possible confidential information such as license plate numbers, etc. from the video recording and other records made at the scene of the accident.
An attorney filed a misconduct complaint against Swize on behalf of Premier Vacuum Service and Barbara Shaw in her “individual capacity” claiming that Swize was “caught on tape” attempting to lobby the state trooper to falsify his report to show that the Premier Vacuum Service driver was at fault in the crash. The police report from the accident did not find the Premier driver at fault. Shaw’s family is part owner of Premier Vacuum Service.
State Trooper Steve Bailey was interviewed about the situation last week and was able to shed some light on the circumstances that led up to the complaint.
When asked whether he thought Swize was making a joke, or a real attempt to interfere in the investigation, Bailey said he really wasn’t sure what to make of the remark.
“It kind of threw me,” Bailey said. “If you know me, I don’t care what people say. I just brushed that aside and said, ‘Look, chief, what I could really use is if you can please go get the wrecker and escort them down here.”
“I don’t care about politics and I don’t care about personal feelings,” Bailey said. “I just want to do my job and go home.”
“I didn’t take the time to think if he was joking or if he was serious,” Bailey said. “I really didn’t even care, to tell you the truth. All I cared about was getting that roadway cleaned up before we had another crash, and to get traffic flowing.”
Bailey said he didn’t give the remark much attention one way or the other, so he did not bring it up with his supervisor or anyone else afterward.
“To bother me, it would have to be somebody like my sergeant telling me something like that,” Bailey said. “Then, I would have to go to my chain of command and say, ‘Hey, I have to listen to him.’ Anybody else – I don’t have to listen to. And I am not going to listen to them. I am going to do my job, and that is it.”
Bailey said during the interview last week that he was told by the county attorney that the matter had been turned over to the district attorney for possible criminal investigation.
According to recent information from an attorney representing the Karnes County Sheriff’s Office, the internal investigation is continuing, despite the chief deputy’s resignation.
Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva has stated that he would not comment on the investigation until it was complete.