KLTV 7 Investigation: 40 Minutes Ago; When DPS let a drunk drive - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

KLTV 7 Investigation: 40 Minutes Ago; When DPS let a drunk driver go

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EAST TEXAS (KLTV) -

We're bringing you a powerful follow up to an investigation that KLTV 7 has been working on for nearly a year.

In November, we told you about Kevin Jones. He was killed in a drunk driving crash on Interstate 20 in 2011. In a startling discovery, Jones' family learned that the drunk driver had been pulled over by a Department of Public Safety trooper 40 minutes before the wreck. However, that drunk driver was let back on the road.

This discovery was just the beginning of an East Texas family's journey for closure. Jones' family learned about the trooper's actions on a dash camera video they had requested themselves. Jones' family simply wanted to put up a highway sign in the exact spot he was killed, but after reviewing video of the crash scene, this is what they heard:

Trooper Borden: I'm feeling bad right now. I stopped him 40 minutes ago.

Unidentified Trooper: Did you?

Trooper Borden: Yeah.

Unidentified Trooper: What was wrong with him?

Trooper Borden: No license... smelled a little alcohol on him, but I couldn't --- ya know --- wasn't nothing. I couldn't smell a lot on him, ya know?

Trooper Borden: I was trying to get him to call somebody, and he tried calling somebody and nobody came. Do you sit there waiting on somebody to call --- ya know? So I left, but I feel bad right now, ya know?

That conversation revealed shocking information, but there were still unanswered questions. The Department of Public Safety and the trooper you heard in that video have refused to talk about what happened that night. The initial traffic stop with the drunk driver was recorded, but DPS would not hand over a copy.

We filed an open records request for the video, but DPS claimed that the video was confidential. They refused to let anyone see it. For nine months, DPS has fought hard to keep Jones' family, East Texans and tax payers from knowing what was on that video. Now, the mystery is over. After relentlessly arguing that the public deserved to know the truth, the Texas Attorney General ruled in KLTV 7's favor. DPS was ordered to hand over that video.

In the early morning hours of August 20, 2011, Harrison County Department of Public Safety Trooper Leland Borden spots a white SUV speeding down the Interstate. It is 2:55 in the morning. According to DPS records, the driver of the SUV is Pedro Rodriguez. The citation report says Rodriguez is going 85 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone. When they come to a stop on the side of the road, it's immediately clear that there is a language barrier between the trooper and Rodriguez.

The conversation and interactions captured on the trooper's dash camera video lead to the life-changing decisions Trooper Borden made that night. The conversation is as follows:

Trooper: Highway Patrol. I stopped you for speeding back there. You were speeding.

Rodriguez: I... I don't know what you mean.

Trooper: Speed. You were going 80. You got licensia?

Rodriguez: No.

The trooper asks the unlicensed driver to get out of the car. As they walk, Rodriguez admits in Spanish that he has been drinking "a little bit."

Trooper: Been drinking?

Rodriguez: Ehh...No. Poquito.

The trooper starts a field sobriety test, but stops just moments after getting started.

"Look here. Look. Watch it. Watch it right here," says Trooper Borden as he tries to perform a field sobriety test on Rodriguez. "Never mind. Stay right there," says the trooper as he walks away.

Trooper Borden goes back to his patrol car for four minutes before returning with a ticket.

"Pedro! This is a ticket, ok? No licensia... for speeding," says Borden.

The dash camera video shows Rodriguez start to sway as he tries to sign the ticket. It takes him 30 seconds to write his name. Then, the trooper asks him to call a friend. For two straight minutes, the trooper tries to get Rodriguez to call a friend but the two men appear to be having trouble communicating.

"Phone your senorita. You. Call. You're not driving. You're not driving. No drive. You call. You call somebody or you go to jail," says Borden.

Rodriguez dials a number and puts the phone to his ear. Then he hands the phone to the trooper who asks him to call somebody else.

"You no drive. You can't drive, ok? You can spend the night right there then...I don't care, but you can't drive, ok? No license," says the trooper Borden.

"Ok," replies Pedro.

Trooper Borden walks back to his patrol car and Pedro Rodriguez is left fumbling with his pockets on the side of the interstate. The dash camera video captures the last time anyone sees Rodriguez alive. He takes a step toward his SUV, and the video suddenly cuts off. In 40 minutes, he's driving the wrong way on the interstate and hits Kevin Jones head on. Both men die instantly.

KLTV 7 is looking into why the dash camera video cuts off so suddenly. The video ends before the trooper drives away.

According to state law enforcement records, Trooper Leland Borden had completed 51 hours of Spanish for Law Enforcement in 2008. Borden's lawyers say they cannot comment on this case.

Back in November, Jones' family said they needed to see the dash camera video of the initial stop because they thought it could bring them some answers and some closure. However, they say the video only left them with more disappointment and anger.

The official crash report from the wrong-way crash that killed Kevin Jones and Pedro Rodriguez shows that investigators could not draw Rodriguez' blood after the crash, but they did take a sample of his eye fluid. The eye fluid sample contained .19 grams of alcohol. That is equivalent to a blood alcohol concentration of .152, which we know is nearly twice the legal limit to be behind the wheel.

Jones' family has filed a lawsuit against Trooper Borden and the night club that they think over-served Rodriguez that night. On February 28, a judge recommended that Jones' family and their lawyers drop the lawsuit against Trooper Borden.

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