The father of “affluenza teen” Ethan Couch went to trial Monday, accused of impersonating a police officer in North Richland Hills two years ago.
Fred Couch, 51, faces a Class B misdemeanor in the case, punishable by up to 180 days in the county jail and/or a $2,000 fine. A six-person jury was selected Monday afternoon, and testimony was expected to begin Tuesday morning.
Couch — whose son, Ethan Couch, killed four people in a drunken driving crash in southern Tarrant County in 2013 — was arrested in August 2014.
North Richland Hills police said Fred Couch told patrol officers he was a reserve officer with the Lakeside Police Department as officers responded to a disturbance call in North Richland Hills on July 28, 2014.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
“When officers arrived, he was there,” Lt. Keith Bauman, police spokesman, said at the time. “Officers didn’t know if he was a witness or what, but he had been in the area.”
Couch told the North Richland Hills officers he had “police stuff” in his truck. He also took out his wallet and showed officers what appeared to be a police badge and an identification card, Bauman said.
Couch and his family have made national news the last three years.
After his son’s drunken driving crash, a psychologist testified at trial that Ethan Couch had “affluenza,” meaning he didn’t know right from wrong due to his wealthy upbringing. A juvenile judge sentenced the teen to 10 years of probation.
Then, last December, a video surfaced showing what appeared to be Couch at a beer pong party. The teen skipped his next probation appointment and fled to Mexico with his mother, Tonya Couch.
The two were arrested a few weeks later in the resort town of Puerto Vallarta and returned to Texas.
Ethan Couch has remained in custody, serving four 180-day stints in the Tarrant County jail as a new condition of his probation.
Tonya Couch, 49, faces two felonies in her son’s flight to Mexico — money laundering and hindering the apprehension of a felon. She has been free on bond since January.