Bar Targeted in APD Bike-Wreck Probe
TABC, DPS, and APD all looking at circumstances of Jacobsons' fatal accident.
On Dec. 16, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission filed an administrative case against the owner of Cedars Bar and Grill in western Travis Co. and forwarded criminal cases against two bar employees in connection with the fatal motorcycle wreck that killed two APD officers earlier this month. If the charges are upheld, the bar could lose its liquor license and the employees could wind up in jail.
APD Cmdr. Shauna Jacobson, 46, and her husband, retired Detective Malcolm "Kurt" Jacobson, 42, were killed shortly after leaving the Cedars some time just after 7pm on Dec. 11, when the motorcycle they were riding crashed into a guardrail on Highway 71 about a mile from the bar. Cedars was the fifth of five stops in a charity poker run in which players go through five stops, retrieving a card at each, in an attempt to build the best five-card poker hand organized by APD officers to benefit a colleague suffering from multiple sclerosis. Jacobson, who retired from the department in 2002, also had MS, with which he'd been diagnosed in the early Nineties. Sources said that Kurt Jacobson made the run's first four stops before stopping at home to pick up his wife and rejoining the run's 100-plus other participants at Cedars many of them off-duty APD officers.
Some time after arriving at the bar, Kurt Jacobson drove his motorcycle into the dining room and did an extended rear-wheel burnout that tore through the floor, staining it with a black rubber streak. Cedars' owner Bobby Joe Bailey says he was unhappy about the show which he said kicked up so much smoke and smell that numerous patrons fled for fresh air and asked Jacobson to take the bike outside. Late last week, other sources told the Chronicle that Bailey didn't seem to mind the show and actually asked Jacobson to autograph the rubbery floor stain. Bailey has hired as his attorney former Travis County Judge Bill Aleshire, who says those allegations are "flat wrong; we absolutely deny that. [Bailey] didn't encourage [Jacobson], he didn't want it, and he is still upset about it."
As it turned out, the couple had not left; less than two hours later they were dead. Police sources said that at the crash site the bike's speedometer read 90 mph. Neither rider was wearing a helmet; Travis Co. Medical Examiner Roberto Bayardo said the couple died instantly. Toxicology reports revealed that Kurt Jacobson's blood alcohol content was 0.24, three times the legal limit of 0.08, and that Shauna's was 0.33, just over four times the legal limit.
Among the agencies investigating the incident is the TABC, whose officers were called to the scene, said Capt. David Ferrero. When the officers arrived at Cedars, he said, they determined that one employee, bartender Candi Lou Summers, 44, was intoxicated; Summers was arrested for being drunk while working, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $4,000 fine and/or up to a year in jail. In addition, the Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating the circumstances of the wreck, and APD is conducting an "administrative inquiry" to determine which APD officers were at the bar, whether they knew the Jacobsons were drunk, and whether anyone did anything to try to prevent them from driving. On Wednesday, APD Chief Stan Knee announced the department would hire an independent investigator to review the events leading up to the Jacobsons' deaths, rather than going through APD's Internal Affairs Division. He told reporters that, given that "multitudes of police officers" were potentially involved, there were understandable concerns both in the community and within APD that an IAD probe would not be perceived as unbiased.
The TABC inquiry continued last week, with investigators trying to determine whether the Jacobsons were intoxicated while at Cedars, whether any Cedars employees should have recognized that they were drunk, and, if they should have, whether any of the employees did anything about it like refuse to serve the two any additional alcohol. The agency kept their findings under wraps until after the Jacobsons' funeral, which was held Dec. 16. That afternoon, officials said they had determined that the Jacobsons were drunk at Cedars, which they allege should've been apparent to restaurant employees after Jacobson's rear-wheel light-up. "After the burnout, management didn't do anything in terms of intervening," said Ferrero. But Aleshire contests this assertion. "He was under the influence of biker macho, but not necessarily under the influence of alcohol," he said.
Ferrero says witness statements and two credit card receipts reveal that two Cedars employees served the Jacobsons four to six beers after Kurt's stunt. "Kurt paid [for] two different sales transactions," Ferrero said. Armed with that evidence, TABC filed an administrative case against license-holder Bailey, alleging the "sale or delivery" of alcohol to "intoxicated persons" and recommending cancellation of the bar's TABC license. The agency also forwarded additional criminal complaints against Summers and another employee (whom Ferrero declined to name) to County Attorney David Escamilla for review, with the recommendation that Escamilla's office pursue cases against the two.
The state does not have to prove that the Jacobsons actually drank what was served to them in order to prove sale or delivery, Ferrero said, only that the booze was sold. The TABC licensing case against Bailey will be heard by an administrative hearing commission, whose members will ultimately "determine the sanctions for the violation," Ferrero said. Until then, Cedars' license remains active and the bar can "continue its business," he said. "Everyone is entitled to their day in court."