EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
Three Texas Department of Public Safety troopers noted an odor of alcohol — two were “overwhelmed” by it — coming from Bertram Police Chief James Jay “J.J.” Wilson as they investigated the crash of his marked patrol car Oct. 24 near Marble Falls.
DPS Trooper Frank Randolph responded to a vehicle crash at 8:34 p.m. in the 500 block of RR 1431 east of Marble Falls, where he found a Bertram police vehicle among trees on the north side of the road. According to a probable cause affidavit, Randolph noted the smell of alcohol at the scene and that the vehicle was locked and the driver was nowhere to be found.
The trooper learned from the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office dispatch that the driver of the vehicle was Wilson and he was headed to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Marble Falls.
Two other troopers made their way to the hospital to contact the subject.
At the scene, Randolph spoke with a witness who stopped on RR 1431 when another motorist flagged him down. The witness said he saw a man walking out from the tree line near the scene of the crash. The witness asked the subject if he needed to go to the hospital to which the man, Wilson, replied that he didn’t but would like a ride to Horseshoe Bay. According to the affidavit, the witness gave the Betram chief a ride to the Llano County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Office in Horseshoe Bay.
The subject eventually made his way to the hospital, where the two other DPS troopers made contact with him. Outside the emergency room, one trooper noted a moderate smell of alcohol coming from Wilson, but when they stepped into the ER, this trooper noticed the odor became stronger.
The third trooper who met Wilson at the ER reception desk told Randolph, according to the affidavit, that “he was overwhelmed with the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage and cologne coming from” the chief. The third trooper also noted the Bertram police chief had “glassy watery eyes, dry mouth, and constricted pupils.”
The chief, according to the affidavit, refused to do the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus — commonly called the field sobriety test. The chief also denied drinking to the third trooper.
However, Wilson did submit to a blood sample, the affidavit stated, which showed a blood-alcohol concentration below 0.08. However, under Texas law the definition of intoxicated means “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.”
Randolph arrived at the emergency room as one of the troopers was walking Wilson out and placed the chief in his DPS patrol vehicle. When the trooper got into his patrol car, he reported, in the affidavit, that he was “overwhelmed with the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Wilson.”
Wilson was booked into the Burnet County Jail on a charge of Class B driving while intoxicated and bonded out Oct. 25 after posting a $1,500 surety bond.
City of Bertram officials are reviewing the situation.
“We at the city of Bertram are saddened by the arrest of Chief Wilson and are in the process of gathering information regarding the events that led to the arrest early this morning,” Bertram Mayor Adam Warden said in a statement. “I am working with city staff to determine what steps the city should take to maintain the integrity of the Bertram Police Department and to ensure the safety of our citizens.”
The charge adds to the legal problems the Bertram police chief faces.
Earlier in October, a Burnet County grand jury indicted Wilson on three counts of officials oppression, one count of aggravated perjury, and one count of misuse of official information.