The widow of a Pearland police officer who was fatally injured in a wrong-way, head-on collision with a drunk driver last summer filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Brazoria County on June 12 over her husband’s death. Also named as plaintiffs in the case are her late husband’s estate, his parents and the couple’s young son.
The fatal accident occurred on June 12, 2016. On Tuesday, Aug. 1, a jury in Angleton in Brazoria County deliberated for less than two hours before returning with a guilty verdict on a charge of intoxication manslaughter against the other driver, a 40-year-old former assistant principal with the Clear Creek ISD. She had just worked a shift as an exotic dancer at The Ritz, a local strip club.
She was free on bail from a drug arrest at the time the collision occurred. A local FOX affiliate reported that in 2014, the woman was sentenced to two years of probation after being convicted of driving under the influence.
When he was killed, the 30-year-old officer was responding to a non-emergency call. The stripper was driving home from the club in a Chrysler 200 sedan. As she drove in the wrong lane on FM 518 near its intersection with Liberty Drive, she slammed into the police officer.
Her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .162, over twice the limit for drivers. The officer later succumbed to his injuries at Memorial Hermann Hospital after arriving by Life Flight.
During the woman’s criminal trial, a Pearland police investigator testified that she was speeding at 90 mph only seconds before the impact. The speedometer needle stopped on 69 mph.
Jurors watched surveillance videos from the strip club that showed the defendant sipping a clear liquid alleged to be vodka from a water bottle she carried inside the club in violation of their policy against drinks from outside being allowed into The Ritz. Other videos show her stumbling, taking a shot and drinking beer, also club violations.
At sentencing, she could be imprisoned either for life or a term from 5-99 years.
Defendants in the wrongful death lawsuit set for trial before a jury in early January include the strip club and its parent companies. Employees are accused of several alcohol-related violations of club policies, e.g., managers failing spot intoxicated strippers and allowing them the keys to drive home.
Source: Chron.com/Houston Chronicle, “Jury reaches verdict in Amber Willemsen trial over wreck that killed Pearland officer,” Dana Guthrie/Kristi Nix, Aug. 02, 2017