DA's office wins case involving BAT van evidence
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- After months of scrutiny into the Houston Police Department's mobile DWI testing vans, aka BAT Vans, Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos is still relying on evidence collected from them. On Thursday, her office won a case started at the very time critics were questioning HPD's equipment.
The DA's top assistant once admitted all the BAT van scrutiny would make it harder to take these cases to a jury. There are still several cases working their way through the system and on Thursday they won their second in a row -- a conviction the DA says is proof nothing was ever wrong with the BATS vans and the evidence they collected.
Back in May, HPD pulled the suspect over on suspicion of drunk driving after police say he hit a curb. After sobriety tests, officers put him inside a BAT van to check his breath alcohol level on the machine inside the van.
The DA and his own lawyer tell us it the results were more than twice the legal limit.
On Thursday, he was convicted -- only the second time since the BAT van evidence was called into question that the DA has taken a BAT van case to trial. Harris County prosecutors have won both, prompting the DA to say in a press release, "DPS experts conclusively determined the scientific validity of the (BAT van) breath-testing equipment. A jury of Harris County citizens reviewed the facts directly for themselves and reached the same conclusion."
The arrest in this case was in May -- months before the DA admitted there were questions about BAT van reliability -- but the trial was this week, months after the DA herself said she didn't trust HPD to run the BAT vans.
"I am asking DPS to take over all supervision of breath testing matching at the Houston Police Department," said Lykos.
DPS does supervise the machines now and, after testing them, assures their reliability. But it is still not enough for some critics who continue to question the BAT vans.
On Friday, we found the BAT vans parked at HPD. The department says they've been used multiple times this year including at this year's rodeo. But the department and DA have committed to using them less as time goes on.
The DA's office is still under investigation by Texas Rangers and a Harris County grand jury.
in focus, ted oberg
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