Court documents about Cuero police officer's arrest released

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

April 29, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated April 29, 2014 at 11:30 p.m.

Department of Public Safety Trooper Elizabeth Tolbert lay on the ground injured for almost two hours before she was taken to a hospital.

Her husband, Cuero police officer Corey Lane Tolbert, was charged Friday with assaulting her.

Court documents released Tuesday revealed that Tolbert's father, Cuero Fire Chief William "Butch" Tolbert, called a police officer about the incident after his son asked him to come out to the couple's home on Heinie Bade Road.

That police officer then went up the chain of command, including notifying Cuero Police Chief Jay Lewis, but no one dialed 911.

Corey Tolbert said in an interview later with Texas Ranger Drew Pilkington that the couple had an argument while drinking and working on water wells on their property.

His wife cut herself with a pocket knife and refused get it stitched up. She ripped off his shirt and, while it was "all a blur," Tolbert remembered pushing her before moving his truck.

"Corey Tolbert acknowledged to me that he knows a gooseneck trailer will swing to the inside as you make a tight turn. Corey Tolbert said he believes in his mind the trailer, attached to the truck he was in, ran her over. Corey Tolbert stated, 'based on the mechanism of the injury, that has to be the only option,'" Pilkington wrote in the complaint.

Tolbert said it was unintentional.

He began text messaging friends for help at 8:41 p.m. He called his father at 8:51 p.m.

He told Pilkington that he was not asking for them to help his injured wife.

"Corey Tolbert stated, 'I'll be damned if I call the sheriff's office,'" Pilkington wrote in the complaint.

William Tolbert told Rangers that after he arrived, he brewed his son a pot of coffee and got his daughter-in-law, who was still laying on the ground, a pillow and a blanket.

Cuero police Sgt. Jerome Hernandez, who eventually notified Lewis, was not contacted until 9:40 p.m.

"He (Tolbert) has personal issues with someone in my department," Sheriff Jode Zavesky said after hearing about the complaint Tuesday afternoon. "There were no 911 phone calls to the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office in reference to anything that went on out there."

A DeWitt County dispatcher; however, told Pilkington that the fire chief called her at 1:29 a.m. about his daughter-in-law's injuries and thought they were caused by horses.

Lewis, meanwhile, declined to comment about why no one dialed 911 because he had not read the affidavit.

"I was not privy to the conversation in the interview, and I can't comment on what Officer Tolbert may have said," Lewis added. "It would be really inappropriate for me to comment any further. The best recourse is to just wait and see what the grand jury decides to do."

The city of Cuero; however, is expected to decide by as early as Friday whether Tolbert will remain on paid administrative leave.

"When we put him on administrative leave with pay, he hadn't been arrested; it was just an investigation. We weren't sure if it was an accident or what," City Manager Raymie Zella said.

The city is considering the change after consulting with an attorney.

"This is a first for me in my five years here," Zella said.

After his arrest Friday, Tolbert was booked into the Lavaca County Jail.

He posted a $200,000 bond on a charge of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury because of family violence, a first-degree felony.

"Since he was a law enforcement officer in this county, we send them to a different detention facility. That way, there's no chance of him getting put in lockdown with someone he put in jail," Zavesky said.

Elizabeth Tolbert was admitted to the Cuero Community Hospital at 10:30 p.m. after two people dropped her off. She suffered, among other injuries, a fractured pelvis, and was transferred at 1:49 a.m. to San Antonio Military Medical Center.

She has since been released from the hospital.

Corey Tolbert said that after his wife was injured, he went into the house with his mom, filled up the dogs' food bowl and went to bed.

When he woke up about 3 a.m., he showered, fed his horses and asked his mom where his wife was. He then went to a Stripes convenience store to get tacos before heading to the San Antonio hospital.

"Corey Tolbert said he would 'hate to know what his blood alcohol level was.' ... He said it had to be pretty high; on a scale of 1-10, an 8," Pilkington wrote.

Tolbert also shot video of part of the argument with his wife.

Pilkington thought it looked like Tolbert's wife was trying to get away, according to court documents.

Throughout the nine-page arrest warrant affidavit, the Texas Rangers received different versions of what happened that night.

The Advocate called Pilkington; Department of Public Safety Public Information Officer Tom Vinger, of Austin; DeWitt County District Attorney Michael Sheppard and Cuero Mayor Sara Post Meyer after 5 p.m. Tuesday.

They could not be reached for comment.



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