Ferris PD involved in more controversy
By 10/02/2003 00:00:00
The Ellis County Press
FERRIS - Allegations of falsifying incident reports have hit the Ferris Police Department, embroiling them in more controversy.
David Caudle, 18, and two friends were driving down FM 983 Aug. 14 when he said his brakes gave out, causing the 1988 Chevrolet S-10 truck he was in to swerve and land on the banks of a creek.
However, in a Ferris incident report, taken by Officer Jose Alehandro, the vehicle listed is a 1991 Chevrolet four-door sedan - not the truck Caudle was driving.
This conflicts with a separate accident report, which states the truck is what Caudle drove.
After the three Ferris residents, ranging in age from 17 to 19, sustained injuries and were transported to area hospitals, three police reports surfaced.
And the three had conflicting information.
In a four-page accident report, one of Caudle's friends, Chris Daniels was quoted as having said a six-pack of beer was consumed before Caudle drove that night, Aug. 14. The report also stated Caudle's airbag went off.
Caudle said he and Daniels both denied having any alcohol that night and cites the fact he was on medication prohibiting him from consuming alcohol.
His truck, a 1988 model, does not come with airbags, Caudle said.
And despite not being arrested, there is still an arrest date, Aug. 30, on the incident report Caudle's mother received, and a Texas Department of Public Safety report regarding the suspension of Caudle's drivers license. That arrest date was dated Aug. 15.
Marty Westmoreland, Caudle's other friend, was reported to have said the truck was traveling at a speed of 75 miles per hour at the time of the crash; Caudle and Westmoreland both denied this as well, and said it was his brakes - not his speed - causing him to wreck.
Both friends deny ever even being interviewed by police.
Though tickets were not issued the night of the wreck, Alehandro sought out Caudle at a Ferris football game Aug. 30 - two weeks after the wreck - to inform him of a meeting at the Ferris Police Department the following Saturday.
According to Caudle, Alehandro told him, 'I'll let you go play with your buddies…I could arrest you now, but I won't.'
Caudle was issued three citations Saturday, Aug. 31, one for driving under the influence, another for failure to show insurance and another for driving at unsafe speed.
Insurance documentation, according to Caudle, was inside his truck's glove box and could have been viewed. However, Caudle said Alehandro did not ask for insurance and according to a copy of the police report, an alcohol/blood test was not taken.
Additionally, Caudle attempted to have his family-owned wrecker service tow his truck - at no cost - but the Ferris police called Ed's Garage, who towed it at a cost of $200. Because of a 'hold' on the vehicle by the FPD, Caudle was unable to gather personal belongings and tools needed for his job. After a period of time, the tow charge climbed to $351 and according to Caudle's mom, air conditioning equipment from the truck was gone.
Now, Caudle and his family have secured an attorney for a court date Wednesday, Oct. 28, and then after, Caudle must appear for a hearing in Farmers Branch to explain his situation before a third and separate Ferris police report, one stating Caudle was a danger on the road and was in a condition severe enough to cause the police to pull him over.
'There's something fishy, and I don't know, since the [newspaper] did stuff on [Chief Jeff Cottongame a couple of weeks ago, they've moved our court date from [Oct. 1] to the 28,' said Caudle's mother, Deborah. 'We were totally shocked by the [citations] and now David is on the verge of losing his license. This isn't right.'
After numerous phone calls to the Ferris Police Department, Alehandro or Interim Chief Mike Zaidel could not be reached for comment.
The situation involving Caudle is one of a string of incidents to have plagued the police department in recent weeks.
On Sept. 4, this newspaper uncovered an off-duty business/bank account being run by Chief Jeff Cottongame. Cottongame and top Lt. Sherman Swafford, as a result of the article and subsequent investigations, were placed on administrative leave with pay.
Two weeks ago, Ferris resident Skip Donahue was confronted by Ferris Officer David Vaughn and his ex-wife, who drove from Houston armed with child custody court documents, to relinquish control of his 12-year-old daughter, whose whereabouts are now unknown.
Donahue planned to file a lawsuit against the city because of the incident, one in which Vaughn was reported to have been intimidating and threatening.
And in a separate incident, longtime Ferris resident C.J. Smith, who delivers Dallas Morning News papers each morning, was also confronted by Alehandro and ticketed for having a rear truck light illuminating.
After each news stand is worked, Smith will get back in his truck to fill out reports; according to Smith, who later had his ticket dismissed by FPD officials, he uses the light so he can see the paperwork.
Smith was later followed and arrested by Alehandro, and was then released after Interim Chief Zaidel arrived on the scene.
'If it would have been any other cop, they would have let me go,' Smith said.