Former Houston city councilman and Clear Channel KTRH-AM talker Michael Berry is now commenting about an investigation into hit-and-run allegations against him, telling listeners he was the target of a smear campaign. Berry, who said he was speaking against the advice of his attorney, talked about the case 2/22 on his show.
Berry has not been charged over the 1/31 accident, but a Houston Police Department crash report identified a car registered to him as the vehicle suspected of backing into another vehicle outside a well-known gay bar in the area. Employees of TC’s bar also have said Berry was seen in the business the night of the alleged hit-and-run, reported the Houston Chronicle
Berry said during show that critics assumed as a conservative talker he is biased against gay people but stressed he never disparaged them on his program or elsewhere. He said he has employed gay workers and that some of his best neighbors were gay: “I don’t bash gays. In fact, I bash people who bash gays,” referring to comments he said he made over anti-homosexual statements by former presidential adviser Karl Rove and televangelist Pat Robertson.
Berry said he has cooperated 100% with police and denied a cover-up of the incident was under way. However, he hinted there were “forces trying to send him to jail for the misdemeanor offense of failing to stop and give information.”
Berry said he didn’t go to TC’s because it was a gay bar but just went there for a beer, and “there was some gay people” inside.
Harris County prosecutors confirmed last week they met with police accident investigators and asked them to do additional work on the hit-and-run case. Prosecutors said they turned away an accident investigator who asked to get charges filed but brought only the license plate number of Berry’s vehicle and no other evidence, not even an offense report.
Meanwhile, a renewed investigation is moving ahead, with the owner of the damaged car saying investigators took paint samples from his vehicle late Monday. Tuderia Bennett, who works as a bouncer at TC’s, said his only interest is getting Berry to pay for the $2,000 in damages. His 2007 Volkswagen Passat was parked on the street outside the bar when Berry’s Chevy Tahoe allegedly backed into it.
Bennett said that on Monday afternoon he brought his car to a police facility for a paint sample test after an interview with a senior investigator: “At first, it was inexcusable, it was way too lax. Now, they’re going in and doing a lot more in-depth review, doing street measurements, talking to way more witnesses, talking to me and getting me involved more.”