Seguin police defend ex-officer after man with meth in system dies following 'courtesy ride'

Darrin Price, 52, let out near truck stop, wandered onto I-10

By Dillon Collier - Investigative Reporter

SEGUIN, Texas - Seguin police officials are defending the actions of a former officer after a man was struck and killed shortly after being in the officer's care.

Darrin Price, 52, was hit and killed in rural Guadalupe County earlier this year shortly after he was given a courtesy ride from a Seguin Police Department officer, public records related to the incident confirm.

Autopsy and toxicology documents show Price had high levels of methamphetamine in his system when he wandered onto Interstate 10 West and was struck by at least four vehicles near Santa Clara Road on March 25 around 4:15 a.m.

WARNING: GRAPHIC DETAILS BELOW

An incident report released by the Cibolo Police Department, which handled the gruesome crash scene, indicates that Price was nearly torn in half by the repeated impact from vehicles and that parts of his body were found nearly 600 feet from the impact site.

Price was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cibolo police's investigation revealed that approximately two hours before his death, Price had come into contact with Seguin police officers and Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office deputies after he wandered into an RV Park in the 200 block of Quintana Road, near a Guadalupe River boat ramp.

Price's friend, Darrell Mullins, said the pair had been wrapping up a late night fishing trip when Price began to act disoriented and eventually walked away from the shore after being dropped off.

"I felt the boat start moving, and I looked and he was climbing out the back of the boat. He stood on that little pontoon I've got back there," Mullins said.

"I'd have went over there in a heartbeat. I just figured he was going to get arrested for a PI (public intoxication) or something like that," added Mullins, who said he called his wife after Price was taken away and then searched for his friend for several hours after learning from his wife that police had dropped him off at the edge of town.

"That just doesn't sound right. He didn't know where he was," he said. "(I) can't fathom why they'd let him go like that. I mean, it's just beyond my belief."

Body camera footage released by GCSO following an open records request shows Price interacting with law enforcement for almost 10 minutes.

Guadalupe County officials muted all but the first minute of audio in the recording, claiming the county did not have the technological capability to redact personal information throughout it.

A Seguin officer, shown in the video and later identified as Suzann Gonzalez, eventually gave Price a ride to a truck stop at the edge of town.

Seguin officials defended the officer's decision in a written statement:

On March 25, 2018, Mrs. Gonzales (sic), who was previously employed with the Seguin Police Department, provided a courtesy ride to Darrin Price from the Guadalupe River area in Seguin to a service station on IH-10 just west of our city (he stated that his destination was San Antonio). This is a common practice that our officers often perform as we encourage them to help stranded individuals whenever possible, such as in this case. Mrs. Gonzales (sic) and a Deputy with the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office spoke with Mr. Price prior to the transport and did not see any signs of intoxication nor diminished mental capacity, therefore, he was transported to the service station. Tragically, Mr. Price was later struck and killed by a motorist hours after our officer left him safely at the service station. We extend our condolences to Mr. Price's family, as they have suffered a terrible loss. It is our understanding that the Cibolo Police Department is investigating the auto/pedestrian accident that tragically ended the life of Mr. Price. It is important to note that Mrs. Gonzales's (sic) separation from this department was unrelated to the incident that you are inquiring about.

Gonzalez's personnel file shows that she resigned at the end of May 2018, after serving a suspension for an unrelated incident in April during which she used a stun gun on a teenager.

Gonzalez did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Days after Price's death, Cibolo police investigators reviewed surveillance video at the truck stop where Gonzalez left Price and found no evidence that Price ever walked inside, according to the crash report.

A Seguin police supervisor told Cibolo police that Gonzalez's report on her encounter with Price was incomplete and missing important details, according to the report.

Seguin officials said the department's own footage of Gonzalez interacting with Price was deleted after 90 days because it was not associated with an arrest.

An autopsy on Price completed in late June found that he had acute methamphetamine intoxication and amphetamine and methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death.

"This would have been an influencing factor in the cause of Mr. Price's death," said Greg Jellick, a forensic pathologist and the technical director for San Antonio's Quality Forensic Toxicology, a private forensic analysis laboratory.

Jellick, who was not associated with the official police investigation, reviewed Price's autopsy and toxicology report and watched the footage of him interacting with law enforcement.

Jellick called the level of methamphetamine in Price's system -- 2,500 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) -- high.

"It could mean that he ingested meth recently, but it could also mean that he had been ingesting meth for several days up until this point," Jellick said.

"The gentleman is talking quite a bit, which can be a sign of being on the upside of methamphetamine use," said Jellick, who also pointed out that Price appears to scratch himself at times while interacting with law enforcement, another common symptom of methamphetamine usage.

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