Booking photo of 1st Lt. Michael Philbin. (Austin (Texas) Police Department image)
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An Army officer’s arrest after a March 23 traffic accident has drawn media attention thanks to his father’s profession — and a disputed conversation between the officer’s lawyer and a police detective.
Police in Austin, Texas, arrested 1st Lt. Matthew Philbin, son of Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, on April 29 in connection with the accident, according to the police department’s online records.
An affidavit provided by the department to Army Times on Monday outlines the incident: A black Jeep registered to Philbin had entered an intersection “and struck (T-boned) the driver’s door” of another vehicle, according to the report. The driver of the second car told the police she had the green light.
A witness to the crash told police that Philbin attempted to dissuade him and the other driver, who was complaining of head and neck pain, from calling police.
Philbin reportedly left the scene, but left his military identification card and cellphone in the Jeep.
“The officer noted in his report that he observed a text message conversation on the phone that indicated concern for Philbin’s intoxicated state while driving,” according to the affidavit.
Philbin’s lawyer, Sam Bassett, said in a Monday email to Army Times that Philbin “did not leave the scene until a few minutes had lapsed,” and that he’d offered to share contact information with the second driver, who declined the request. Philbin left after the witness “started making hostile statements,” Bassett said.
Bassett also disputed a statement in the affidavit — first reported by The Miami Herald — that he’d requested the officer delay his investigation until Philbin’s scheduled May 1 promotion to captain, so the military wouldn’t find out.
“Though I did mention to him the possible promotion, I did not ask him to delay his investigation,” Bassett said in the email. The second driver’s father informed Fort Hood, Texas, officials of the charges, the Herald reported.
Army personnel records show Philbin, 26, is still a first lieutenant, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division, at Fort Hood. The 2010 West Point graduate is scheduled to rotate this summer, records show. His awards include a Bronze Star Medal and Army Commendation Medal, along with an Iraq Campaign Medal with campaign star.
Philbin has a July 7 court date at which he’s scheduled to face a charge of failing to stop and render aid, a third-degree felony in Texas, but Bassett said the date would be delayed. He did not say what plea Philbin would enter.