Jurors hear from 1st officer at scene of crash that led to death of BPD’s Sheena Yarbrough-Powell

Published 4:18 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2022

BEAUMONT — Beaumont Police Officer Bradley Martin on Wednesday told jurors of the trauma to Officer Sheena Yarbrough-Powell’s body and how he worked to stabilize her neck in the event she was unconscious but still alive.

Martin was the first officer on scene at the Aug. 9, 2020, crash on U.S. 69 in Beaumont shortly after the vehicle reportedly driven by Luis Torres collided with the BPD vehicle.

Martin said Yarbrough-Powell had trauma to her face and a lot of trauma to her head.

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She was motionless, the dashboard had crushed toward her and she was pinned between the dashboard and the door. Martin cut his hand, leaving scars, while trying to reach in to grab Yarbrough-Powell.

Torres is on trial in Judge John Stevens’ court for intoxication manslaughter in the death of the 23-year-old officer.

Prosecutor Waylon Thompson asked Martin what sort of care he was trying to give Yarbrough-Powell.

“I had hoped she was just unconscious and still alive so I was trying to hold her C-spine,” Martin said, explaining stabilizing her spine would, if she were still alive, help prevent her from being paralyzed.

Thompson asked if there were any signs of life; Martin’s answer was no. He checked for a pulse and did not find one but continued rendering aid.

Officer Gabriel Fells was still in the driver’s seat and was severely injured, drifting in and out of consciousness at this time, the witness said.

Martin told jurors he saw both vehicles and it was clear parties from each needed assistance, so another officer was sent to check on Torres.

Tuesday’s testimony included information on how neither Fells or Yarbrough-Powell were wearing seatbelts, which — according to testimony — is typical with some law enforcement because it is easier to jump out of the vehicle when responding to a call.

The prosecutor asked Martin Wednesday if wearing a seat belt would have helped the situation. His answer was no.

“All four airbags had been deployed. That didn’t help Sheena,” Thompson said.

Fells was extracted from the wreckage with the use of Jaws of Life, a piece of equipment that pulls metal apart.

Martin followed Fells to the hospital, but the injured officer was not told of his partner’s death until hours later.

“How did he react?” Thompson asked.

“He was beside himself. He was extremely distraught at what happened,” Martin answered.

Defense attorney Tom Burbank asked Martin of the time period leading up to the crash, after and what happened when Martin returned to the police station. Martin explained the officers were informed of services provided to them when they are involved in a traumatic event. The event was so traumatic, Martin was sent home for a day or so, he said.

During afternoon testimony, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Steven Creader told of the chain of events and the damage to the vehicles. He also testified he and a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Agent worked together in the investigation into the crash.

Creader and Falls visited Tequila’s restaurant in Port Arthur, where Torres, then 18, was served at least two margaritas.

Police said Torres was driving without a license and was believed to be highly intoxicated with a blood alcohol content of .296.