The July 22 traffic stop where he was let off an alleged DWI wasn’t the first incident involving Tom Bean City Councilor Ben Vincent and the Whitewright Police. Vincent, who was arrested Thursday for intoxicated assault with a vehicle and posted bond Friday, was the subject of a police report from May.
Shortly before 11 p.m. on May 9, Whitewright Police Officer Michael Green responded to assist Whitewright EMS on a call of an intoxicated man who fell and hit his head in Tom Bean. In the police report the Herald Democrat obtained Friday, Green responded to the 400 block of East State Highway 11 because Tom Bean Police could not be reached that night. The subject was not at the scene but Green learned he was taken to a residence in the 300 block of Meadow Estates Street.
Green went to the house, and the report states police dispatch informed him the subject’s name was Ben Vincent. The report states a woman answered the door and she was unaware of what had occurred. Green did not speak with Vincent, the report states, but EMS personnel did. The report states Vincent “appeared to be intoxicated and had a visible injury to his nose.” However, the report did not cite any offense, and Vincent was not charged with anything.
EMS personnel informed Green that Vincent also had a bump on his head that was consistent with a fall. EMS personnel also said Vincent seemed to be intoxicated, but he refused treatment.
Because of the injury Vincent sustained to his nose, Green returned to the 400 block of East Highway 11 to see whether an assault had occurred. Green spoke with the caller, who was identified in the report as Justin Langford. Langford told Green that Vincent had driven to the apartment complex and stumbled into an apartment on the west side. A few minutes after Vincent — who Langford said was “highly intoxicated” — entered the apartment, a female resident, Johna Ross, asked for help.
The report states Langford entered the apartment and Vincent was on the bathroom floor. He and another man, Eric Cates, helped Vincent get outside. Langford told Green that Vincent walked to his car, but Langford would not allow him to drive. Langford and another man drove Vincent to his house.
Langford’s account was corroborated in the report by the second witness, Cates, who told Green that Vincent was at the apartment to “collect the rent.” Green wrote Cates stated “that Ben was attempting to make a trade with Johna for the rent.”
In the report, Green said Ross stated “she did not want to get Ben in trouble and did not want to comment on what Ben was doing in the apartment.”
Cates and Ross told Green that Vincent did not have the injury to his nose when he left the apartments. Green corroborated that statement with other witnesses at the scene.
As a result of responding to this call, Green was the subject of an internal affairs investigation by the city of Whitewright. Whitewright Mayor Jeremiah Looney said on Friday that the investigation was closed, and came about because Tom Bean residents claimed that Green allegedly said damaging things about Tom Bean while on the call. Looney didn’t specify who those residents were.
“There were citizens over there that said he said some damaging things about the city while he was there,” Looney said. “But after watching the video there wasn’t any evidence of anything that he said that could be damning to the city or to anything.”
On July 22, Whitewright Police Officer Andrew LeFevre pulled over the vehicle Vincent was driving after observing Vincent drive into the wrong lane of traffic. Vincent, 57, told the officer he had consumed a bottle of wine a few hours earlier, and the officer allowed a family member to pick up Vincent, instead of arresting him for allegedly driving while intoxicated.
Vincent was issued a verbal warning that the Herald Democrat also obtained documentation of on Friday. The document states that a caller reported a reckless driver, and the officer observed Vincent drive into an oncoming lane of traffic. After the officer stopped Vincent, the document states the officer “determined operator was not fit to be driving and stood by while a sober driver arrived to take responsibility for him.” The traffic stop was also recorded on body camera footage from an assisting Whitewright officer.
In an exchange between LeFevre and the assisting officer Mark Munt during the stop that lasted nearly 40 minutes, LeFevre asks Munt, “Is this the one Green dealt with?” Munt acknowledged that Vincent was the same guy.
On May 25, Whitewright Police Chief Beau Heistand issued a news release in response to that traffic stop. The city terminated LeFevre and Heistand said in the release that “Statements were made on scene indicating that if Officer LeFevre was not leaving the department soon, the driver would have been arrested for DWI.”
On Thursday morning, Vincent struck a pickup belonging to the Tom Bean Independent School District with his Toyota Prius. Both Vincent and the pickup driver were transported to the hospital. As of the Friday, the pickup driver was still in the hospital. Vincent was released from the hospital on Thursday afternoon, and he was directly arrested by Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.
Vincent was booked into the Grayson County jail for a third-degree felony offense. Bond was initially set $200,000 on Friday, but then lowered to $100,000. Vincent posted bond and was released Friday evening. A call placed to Vincent was not returned Saturday and his attorney, Bob Jarvis, did not provide comment. Jarvis did provide comment Friday afternoon on Vincent’s arrest.
“I think once all the facts are made clear, most folks will have a different understanding of what they think happened,” Jarvis said of the collision Thursday. “Ben had undergone recent medical treatment and was on new medicines very recently.”