A week after allegations emerged that conservative radio host and former Houston city councilman Michael Berry was involved in a hit-and-run accident outside a Montrose gay bar, Berry is responding to the controversy.
At 11 p.m. on Jan. 31, Berry allegedly drove his Chevy Tahoe in reverse for 70 feet outside of T.C.'s Show Bar before hitting a parked car, causing $1,500 in damage, and fleeing the scene. T.C.'s bouncer Tuderia Bennett, the owner of the car, says he witnessed the accident and could identify Berry as the driver.
A police investigation traced the license plate of the Tahoe to Berry, and bar owners provided surveillance video of Berry inside the gay bar just before the time of the accident.
On his KTRH show on Tuesday morning, Berry slammed KPRC's report as a "smear campaign" by "unnamed sources," threatening that "Channel 2, I’ve got my sights on you. … You can smear my name without me but I’m not going down without a fight," before referring to the station as "S.O.B.s."
Berry also denied charges that he had ever made anti-gay statements on his show and said the report was written to highlight a false media narrative: “Saying ‘gay bar’ and ‘conservative talk show host' is too awesome for a news station to pass up because conservatives hate gays — or so we are told,” he said.
Berry, who has hired high-powered attorney Dick DeGuerin, did not deny that he was the person seen in the video inside the bar, but said that the footage only proved he had a drink and went to the restroom, not that he committed a crime.
I went into a bar. There were gay people inside. You know why I went in to a bar? Let me confess. Because there was cold beer waiting inside. Is that a crime? The fact that I’m not afraid of the fact that some of the people inside may be gay makes it a bad thing? Would it have been better if I was at a strip club, or a Hooters? Well if it would then maybe you should now know, I don’t hate gays. I don’t fear gays. I don’t need to bash gays."
Berry has not been charged with Failure to Stop and Give Information, a misdemeanor, but the case has been reopened and, according to the Chronicle, HPD chief Charles McClelland has launched an internal affairs inquiry into how the matter was handled after the original investigating officer turned over a minimal amount of evidence to district attorneys.
On Wednesday Mayor Annise Parker commented on the investigation to KUHF, stating that she trusts the police department to do a "thorough and diligent" job of investigating all complaints and that she is "not aware of any special treatment" for Berry.