Off-duty officer in deadly head-on vehicle crash refused sobriety test

Houston police say an officer on its force was involved in a deadly vehicle crash and has been relieved of duty pending an investigation. The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office is conducting an investigation into the head-on vehicle collision that left one man dead near FM 1464 in the Richmond area at around 6:26 a.m. on Friday.  

When deputies arrived to the crash site in the intersection of Beechnut Road and Westmoor Drive they found one man had died as a result of the collision. An off-duty Houston Police Department officer was driving a white Chevrolet Tahoe that crashed into the silver Chevrolet Corvette where the man's body was found. The victim who died was later identified as 36-year-old Richmond resident Brian Manring. 

The officer has not been charged in the crash.

"The driver of the Tahoe did cross the center line and strike the Corvette," says FBCSO Major Chad Norvell. That driver sustained minor injuries and told investigators when they arrived that he was an off-duty Houston police officer.

Deputies had detected the presence of alcohol on the off-duty officer and requested that he complete field sobriety tests, but the officer refused the request. FBCSO obtained a warrant which forced the officer to be taken to Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital to have his blood drawn and to be treated for minor injuries.

"They detected an odor of alcohol and signs of someone who had been drinking," adds Major Norvell. "They requested a sobriety test to which he refused."

At this point, the officer does not face any charges, pending blood test results which Maj. Norvell says could take weeks.

When this reporter says to Maj. Norvell, "You don't have to be drunk to get charged with something. He was in an accident that killed somebody," Maj. Norvell responds by saying, "Correct, but that doesn't mean he was intoxicated. We don't know that so we're not going to make that assumption." He does make sure to explain that the officer is not getting preferential treatment.

Maj. Norvell says it's typical to hold off on lesser charges if there's a possibility of a more significant charge down the line.

"He was taken to the hospital, we obtained his blood, and we're following the same procedures we would for anyone in this situation," says Maj. Norvell.

Because the officer is not charged, FBCSO is not releasing his name. But the Houston Police Department confirms it was Officer James Combs who was involved in the deadly wreck.

HPD spokeswoman Jodi Silva tells FOX 26 News that Ofc. Combs has been with the department for six years and was most recently assigned to the Midwest Patrol Division. Silva also confirms that Combs has been relieved of duty pending the outcome of the investigation.