What would have happened if the Kenedy County Sheriff's Office had thoroughly and aggressively investigated the Cheney shooting accident on the day it happened? What new information about the case could have emerged? Here are excerpts from the report that might have resulted:
The following is the official incident report as filed by Chief Deputy Gilberto San Miguel Jr.
At approximately 1830 hrs on Saturday February 11, 2006, Kenedy County Sheriff Ramon Salinas contacted me, Chief Deputy Gilberto San Miguel Jr. The phone call was in reference to a hunting accident that occurred on the Armstrong Ranch, involving Vice President Dick Cheney, and I was told by Sheriff Salinas to report to the main house on the Armstrong Ranch right away. I Chief Deputy Gilberto San Miguel Jr. arrived at the bump gate to the Armstrong Ranch at approximately 1900 hours and I was met by Secret Service personnel.
I identified myself and told everyone I was to report to the main house. I was told by a Secret Service agent that I would not be allowed to interview Mr. Cheney or other witnesses to the accident until the next day for "national security" reasons. Special note: the Special Agent in charge, Donald Brown, exhibited an unprofessional attitude and referred to me as a "pissant tin-horn deputy" who could not pre-empt federal authority in attempting to speak to Mr. Cheney while he was "distraught." I stated that since a shooting incident occurred it was my obligation as a law enforcement officer with jurisdiction over the case to interview the parties involved. I said that I was prepared to call my superior, Sheriff Ramon Salinas, and we would go up the chain of command to the Governor's office if necessary until federal officials granted permission to enter the ranch. When I took down Agent Brown's badge number, FPS XXXXXXX and walked back to my patrol car to radio Sheriff Salinas, the Secret Service agent changed his mind and granted me permission to enter the ranch.
Brown informed me that he would be riding with me to the main house and I was instructed to park my vehicle by the cattle guard. I brought my portable Alcohawk Pro breathalyzer with me in case alcohol was involved in the accident. I walked across the cattle guard and was turned over to another agent who identified himself to me as agent Michael Lewis.
As we entered the main house, Mr. Lewis called out in a loud voice, "Mr. Vice President, the sheriff's office is here." Mr. Cheney was in the living-room with his arm around a house-guest (I later identified her as Pam Willeford) and he appeared to be swaying back and forth with her. I saw him put down a cocktail glass partially filled with liquid (see KCSO evidence item #1) before he walked out in the hallway to greet me. "Who the fuck let him in?" the Vice President first said to Mr. Lewis. Mr. Cheney's voice sounded slurred but I could not at that point make a positive identification that he was intoxicated. Agent Lewis recounted our conversation at the gate and explained that I insisted that our office had jurisdiction in this incident.
Mr. Cheney nodded in agreement and told me he would cooperate with us as long our questions did not violate national security protocols or "waste my time." We made ourselves comfortable at a table inside the main house, and I asked Mr. Cheney if he could explain to me what had happened during the incident. "I pulled the trigger and Harry [Whittington] went down," he said. "Got any other questions?" he said and attempted to end the interview. I said we needed a more detailed explanation.
Mr. Cheney told me that on Saturday, February 11, 2006 at approximately 5:30 pm on the
Armstrong Ranch there was a three vehicle hunting party that had located a covey [of quail]...He said that he and Pam Willeford proceeded to the second covey and were sharing a bottle of Dr. Pepper together while waiting to shoot the birds. He said that no one in the hunting party of about 10 people was drinking alcohol, although he said he had a beer or two or three at lunch, and did I want to make something of it. The Vice President became agitated during my questioning and I asked him to calm down and that no one was accusing him of anything.
Mr. Cheney said that a single "tweety bird" flew behind him and he followed the bird in a counter-clockwise direction not realizing that Mr. Whittington, who had retrieved a downed quail, was tip-toeing behind him 30 yards away "quiet as a churchmouse." At this point in the interview, the Vice President put his head in his hands and started moaning, "What did I do?" repeatedly. Mr. Cheney then put his face down on the table and proceeded to fall asleep. Agent Lewis had to wake him up while calling for medical back-up units to be summoned to the house on standby.
I told the Vice President that he might be intoxicated and that I would need to administer a breathalyzer test. He was advised that if he refused the test his driver's license could be suspended for 180 days -- and that if he was intoxicated when he shot Mr. Whittington he may face criminal charges. "Go fuck yourself," he told me and declined to take the breathalyzer test. I told him that was no way to speak to a law enforcement officer doing my job and that we would return the next day for questioning.
I have spoken with other people in the hunting party and Mr. Whittington while he was at Spohn Memorial Hospital. (See attached affidavits.) They have told me pretty much the same story as Mr. Cheney, and Mr. Whittington claimed foremost there was no alcohol during the hunt...
Our investigation continues.
Special for Huffington Post readers: Here's the original whitewash report.