Austin bartender arrested for serving driver involved in February deadly auto-pedestrian crash

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has arrested an Austin bartender for serving a man who's accused of hitting and killing a pedestrian with his car in a deadly auto-pedestrian crash on February 15.

TABC agents arrested 31-year-old Rafael Medina on March 10. Medina is charged with selling alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person. He was booked into the Travis County Jail and has been released on $2,500 bond.

Rafael Medina

“The bartender will face a misdemeanor charge of about $1500 and possibly up to a year in jail,” said Chris Porter the TABC public information officer.

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Medina was working at Polvo's Mexican Restaurant located at 360 Nueces Street when TABC believes he served alcohol to a customer who was showing signs of intoxication. 

“That individual who was served later went on to be involved in an accident where he struck a pedestrian,” said Porter.

Paul Joseph Garcia Jr

Austin police identified that customer as Paul Joseph Garcia. Garcia was later charged with intoxication manslaughter and failure to stop and render aid after the car he was driving struck Lee Martin Cagle crossing Menchaca Road while pushing a shopping cart at around 10:30 p.m. on February 15. Garcia continued to drive about half a mile and left his vehicle all while Cagle was lodged into the passenger side of his car.  

Officials say Garcia continued for at least half a mile before coming to a stop. He then left the car and went on foot to the South Austin Beer Garden where staff stopped Garcia from entering the building and called police.

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Porter said after cases like this the TABC does their own investigation to find out where the driver got their alcohol. “We'll go in and look at the sales policies and practices and we also look at the evidence of sales to see if someone was showing signs of intoxication where the alcohol was sold,” said Porter.

During this case, Porter said they believe Medina being the bartender must also be held responsible. “Under state law, businesses are to be held responsible for the safety of the individuals who consume alcohol at their locations. A lot of people understand you can't serve alcohol to a minor but you also can't serve alcohol to an intoxicated person,” said Porter.

Porter said bartenders are at the front lines when it comes to public safety relating to alcohol and they must always be on the lookout for those who may be intoxicated and take steps to deny them service. 

TABC says that selling alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500 and up to a year in jail. Businesses accused of selling alcohol to an intoxicated person could also face a fine or suspension of their TABC liquor license.

The TABC is currently investigating the restaurant where Medina works as well as other businesses Garcia may have went to the night of the crash.