HOUSTON -- A woman taken into custody for public intoxication was killed early Wednesday when a suspected drunken driver struck the patrol car transporting her in downtown Houston, police said.
According to the Houston Police Department, the handcuffed woman was thrown from the police car and later died at the hospital. The female officer who took her into custody suffered minor injuries and was sent to the hospital on a stretcher.
HPD said a 21-year-old woman driving a red Chevrolet Cobalt slammed into the HPD cruiser on Chartres Street at Texas Street around 3:35 a.m.
“The female driving the Chevy Cobalt, there’s evidence that leads us to believe she was driving while intoxicated,” said HPD Sgt. Ignacia Izaguire at the scene. “The officer stated she had the green light. The female driver of the Cobalt, she admitted to have been drinking some alcoholic beverages, pretty much did not know what happened. She stated to one of our officers here that she, ‘shouldn’t have been driving, shouldn’t have been driving.’”
Sgt. Izaguire said the Cobalt’s driver suffered a head injury and was sent to the hospital along with a passenger in her car.
Police later confirmed the woman killed in the accident, despite department policy, was not properly restrained in a seatbelt.
According to HPD, the 21-year-old detainee turned victim was taken into custody earlier in the night at Hobby Airport after it was determined she was a hazard to herself. She was being transported to a sobriety center when the crash occurred.
A nearby resident who heard the crash told WFAA sister station KHOU 11 News he came outside and tried to assist the officer. He said the officer removed the detainee’s handcuffs and asked that the woman's feet be elevated.
The resident also said accidents at the intersection are common because a freeway overpass partially blocks the traffic lights as drivers approach.
Sgt. Izaguire said the officer involved is a veteran of 15 years with Houston police, but neither her identity nor the identities of the others involved were released.
The incident is being investigated by HPD’s Vehicular Crimes and Internal Affairs Divisions.
In a separate incident, an HPD lieutenant responding to the scene in an unmarked car was involved in a wreck himself at an intersection just a few blocks away. The officer was said to be okay, but the driver of the other vehicle was sent to the hospital with minor injuries.