DPS trooper found innocent of theft during traffic stop

By Rick Hagen NBC News correspondent (needs backend)

Associated Press

DENTON — A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper accused of stealing nearly $400 from a man stopped for speeding was found innocent on a theft charge.

Before reaching a verdict Wednesday, jurors watched a videotape that showed the trooper, Jose Rios Del Rio, 26, of Denton, during a traffic stop in June.

“From the first time I saw the video, I knew he was innocent,” said Del Rio’s attorney, Rick Hagen of Denton. “In one frame, you see reflections, and it looks like he may have something in his hand. But in the next frame, he doesn’t have anything in his hand.”

The trooper faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Del Rio, who has been on paid administrative leave, plans to return to work, Hagen said.

On June 16, Roanoke police stopped a speeding car carrying five men who could not speak English on eastbound Texas 114. Del Rio, who speaks Spanish, was called to serve as an interpreter.

When Del Rio arrived, he told Isidro Barcenas and one of the other men to sit in a Roanoke patrol car, authorities said. The three other men were ordered to sit in another patrol vehicle, authorities said.

Del Rio took Barcenas’ wallet and later returned it. Barcenas told jurors that he thought the money was still in the wallet but realized it was gone when he checked it a few minutes later.