Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Chief of Police Ernest V. Mendoza Needville Independent School District Police

Department Texas
End of Watch: Friday, January 19, 2007
Biographical Info
Age: 54
Tour of Duty: 25 years
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Vehicular assault
Date of Incident: Friday, January 19, 2007
Weapon Used: Automobile; Alcohol involved
Suspect Info: Apprehended

Chief Ernest Mendoza was killed when his patrol car was struck head-on by a drunk driver on FM 1301 in Wharton County. The truck driven by the drunk driver veered into the opposite lane, causing the collision. Chief Mendoza was killed instantly upon impact. The drunk driver who caused the crash fled on foot but was apprehended by a deputy sheriff a short time later. The man was charged with felony murder and failure to stop and render aid. The driver had four previous DUI convictions. Chief Mendoza had served with the Needville ISD Police Department for 10 years and a total of 25 years law enforcement service. He is survived by his wife and seven children.
Title: Murder now charged in death of Needville ISD police chief - 'Repeat Offense' Illegal Alien ChargedSource: Wharton Journal SpectatorURL Source: http://journal-spectator.com/front1.shtmlPublished: Jan 26, 2007Author: WJSPost Date: 2007-01-26 13:17:25 by Happy2BMe-OnLPPing List: *ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION*41 Comments

Murder now charged in death of Needville ISD police chief

Wharton firefighters and paramedics respond to the Boling Highway accident scene where Needville ISD’s chief of police was struck head-on by another driver.
- A Wharton man with four prior DWI convictions will be tried for murder after fleeing a suspected drunken crash that killed Needville ISD’s police chief. A sheriff’s deputy tracked down Guillermo Paniagua, 30, after he left the crash site near the intersection of FM 1301 and CR 113 around 9 p.m. Friday. He was booked into the Wharton County jail for felony murder and felony failure to stop and render aid. He remained there as of presstime on $600,000 bond. Chief Ernest V. Mendoza, 54, died at the scene. He was pronounced dead at 10:15 p.m. Friday by Wharton County Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Dennis Korenek. His body was taken to the Wharton Funeral Home prior to transfer to the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy. The collision took place about 3.2 miles east of Wharton near Boling as a slow rain fell. Mendoza was coming home from a Needville basketball game, driving his 2000 Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser westbound on FM 1301. Paniagua was traveling east in a 2001 Ford F-150 pickup. Department of Public Safety officials said Paniagua’s vehicle crossed into Mendoza’s lane.
Paniagua “was on the wrong side of the road,” said DPS Sgt. Danny Terronez. The vehicles hit right headlight to right headlight with a force which crushed both. Mendoza was only about a mile from home. The Needville ISD police chief had on his seat belt, but “all indications are that he died on impact,” said DPS Senior Trooper Gary Pflughaupt. Trooper Todd Respondek is in charge of the investigation. He is being assisted by Terronez and troopers Royce Korenek and Juan Aguilera. Officials said Paniagua fled the scene on foot. “People came up to the scene, went up to the pickup and saw (Paniagua),” Pflughaupt said. The would-be-rescuers then rushed over to the patrol car, he added. “When they turned around, he was gone.” As rescue units and police arrived, a broadcast went out to start the hunt for the pickup driver. Sheriff’s Department Deputy Jerry Price arrested Paniagua at the Shell Station in Boling, about five miles from the crash site.
Paniagua was treated at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Wharton for cuts and bruises prior to booking. Officials believe he had not worn a seat belt, though he suffered only minor injuries. Alcohol is suspected in the crash. Blood tests were taken, with results expected late Tuesday. Paniagua, a construction worker, has two prior DWI convictions in Wharton County. County court records indicate that he pled guilty to DWI on May 30, 2001 in return for a one-year probated sentence. His probation was revoked, however, after he was arrested for DWI again. That offense allegedly occurred on Feb. 15, 2002. Paniagua spent three days in jail and then received 18 months probation after pleading guilty. His driver license was suspended for 180 days. Paniagua successfully completed the terms of that probation on Dec. 5, 2003, according to court records. Law enforcement officials said Paniagua has an additional two DWI arrests in Georgia. At the time of the accident, he had a valid driver license, said DPS Sgt. Terronez. Paniagua is charged with murder, a first degree felony, and failure to stop and render aid as a third degree felony. He faces up to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fineon the murder charge. For the failure to render aid charge, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

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