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SAFD veteran arrested on felony third DWI

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

When City of Bandera Deputy Marshal Willie Smith stopped an allegedly inebriated motorist, he got more than he bargained for.
In the end, Lee Michael Stanphill was arrested on a felony third Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charge. Stanphill currently serves as a lieutenant and paramedic with the San Antonio Fire Department. A 15-year veteran of the SAFD, according to reports, he is currently assigned to the department's technical services division.
On Thursday, Oct. 30, at approximately 4:56 pm, Smith responded to an assistance call from deputies with the Bandera County Sheriff's Department. Apparently, emergency dispatch had informed BCSO that a possible intoxicated driver was headed toward the City of Bandera from Pipe Creek.
A clerk working at a convenience store in Pipe Creek called 9-1-1 after purportedly observing a man urinating on the floor in the store. Before law enforcement arrived, however, the man left the location in a white Ford extended cab pickup, according to the clerk.
In his report, Smith indicated he traveled south on Highway 16 to locate the vehicle. "As I approached Old San Antonio Road, I observed a 2012 white extended cab Ford 250 turn right from Highway 16 onto Old San Antonio Road," he reported. After pulling his marked patrol vehicle behind the Ford 250, Smith activated his emergency lights and initiated a traffic stop.
According to the report, when Smith approached the driver, Stanphill, he detected a "strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath and person. I also observed that his eyes were bloodshot and glassy in appearance."
Additionally, after providing Smith with his driver's license, Stanphill was unable to locate an insurance card for the vehicle. Although it could not be confirmed, several reports indicated that the vehicle Stanphill appeared to be driving a SAFD vehicle equipped with emergency lights.
Still observing Stanphill, Smith noted that he "spoke with extremely slow and slurred speech" and that he moved "sluggishly and appeared to be unsteady on his feet," leading Smith further to believe Stanphill might possibly be under the influence of alcohol. When Stanphill exited his vehicle, Smith also noted in the arrest report that his pants were undone and his zipper down and there appeared to be a urine stain on the front of Stanphill's pants.
After running a driver's license check on Stanphill, Smith contacted Marshall Will Dietrich and informed him of the situation.
After Stanphill refused to submit to a field sobriety test, Smith arrested him after determining "he would be a danger to himself and others if he were released." Smith transported Stanphill to the Bandera County Jail.
At the time of his arrest, Stanphill was reportedly still wearing his SAFD uniform. However, by the time he arrived at the county jail, he had been allowed to turn the shirt "inside out," according to an account.
Interestingly, according to the report, a representative of a local towing company, who was apparently acquainted with Stanphill, offered to take custody of the Ford 250. After Stanphill agreed, Smith released the vehicle for towing.
Also, a review of Stanphill's criminal history showed that he had two previous convictions for DWI in the Kendall County Court at Law in November 2009 and the Kendall County Court at Law in July 2013, according to the arrest report. Other reports indicated, he had also been the subject of multiple other arrests.
At the jail, Stanphill was the subject of a so-called "blood warrant" because he had been arrested on a suspected felony third DWI. After reading and signing a mandatory statutory authorization for the blood draw, Carol Sanders, a licensed vocational nurse, performed the procedure.
However, according to verbal reports, Stanphill allegedly attempted to sabotage the medical procedure by engaging in a "fit of sneezing" as Sanders was locating a vein. Despite what some perceived as machinations on Stanphill's part, she obtained the necessary sample, which was immediately sent via certified mail to the Texas Department of Public Safety Laboratory in Austin for analysis.
After the blood draw was completed, Stanphill was booked into the jail. A short while later, Dietrich contacted Smith to inform him that, according to the jail administrator, Stanphill had become ill and was unconscious. A request was made for Dietrich to "release" Stanphill to enable EMS personnel to transport him to another facility. Dietrich agreed and Stanphill was removed from the jail without being arraigned for the felony DWI or having a mugshot taken.
Follow-up reports indicated that he eventually ended up at an alcohol and drug treatment center, located in Hunt.
Dietrich filed At Large Driving While Intoxicated 3rd Degree Felony charges on Stanphill. The case will be presented to the Bandera County Grand Jury when the results of the analysis of the Stanphill's blood draw are complete.
Repeated calls to Chuck Wier, who serves as attorney for the SAFD, were unanswered by press time. Meanwhile, Stanphill has been suspended from the SAFD, according to reports.