Springfield police are analyzing cell phone communications between a former city councilman under investigation for a road rage incident and other city leaders. Police requested cell phone records from the mayor, city manager and assistant city clerk. Recently unsealed search warrant documents show each city official voluntarily allowed police to go through their phone records. They are also examining the cell phone records of former city council member Nick Ibarra who was involved in a road rage incident.
The investigation started in the 700 block of south Hazelnut on Thanksgiving day. “When we noticed that he had the open container that's when he freaked out,” Brian Patterson told KSPR News on Thanksgiving. Patterson and another man, Tom Russell, say Ibarra was drinking and driving. “‘I said you need to stay here because you've been drinking’ and he didn't want any part of that and hauled off down the street, dragging me,” Patterson said.
Two separate search warrants show Ibarra contacted Springfield Assistant City Clerk Anita Cotter on Thanksgiving. According to the search warrant, Cotter told police Ibarra sent a text that said "I've been burned. I think I ran over someone but he was assaulting me." She reportedly told officers the text was sent after she missed a call from Ibarra.
Springfield Mayor Jim O'Neal also got a call. “Being a combat veteran he had been in situations that were fearful, he said this was a first time in a long time he feared for his personal safety,” O’Neal said. “Our conversation was more about that he wanted to make me aware of it. I told him you are obviously upset get your facts straight.”
Police also asked for phone records detailing any communication between Ibarra and Springfield City Manager Greg Burris. “I received a phone call during Thanksgiving dinner,” Burris said. “I didn't respond to that phone call. I immediately got a text message from Mr. Ibarra that asked me to call him.” Burris says Ibarra told him his version of the road rage incident. “He just wanted me to know,” Burris said.
Search warrants reveal some of the evidence investigators are collecting but it is still unclear if anyone will be charged. Police were unable to find the text message from Ibarra to the assistant city clerk in her phone. They requested records from AT&T. According to court documents officers are analyzing an email that includes multiple attachments of the records requested.
KSPR News also asked for an interview with the assistant city clerk. Initially, the City told us instead Cotter would issue a written statement. A spokesperson then told us that since we were able to speak with the city manager and mayor, city leaders were not planning to issue anything further. The spokesperson told KSPR News a highway patrol investigator asked Cotter not to speak to the media.
Unedited Search Warrant Document Summary:
I, Robert McPhail, have been a police officer employed by the Springfield Police Department for approximately 17 years. I have been assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division for 6 years. I am currently assigned to the Violent Crimes Unit as a Detective. Previous to this assignment, I have had assignments as a narcotics investigator, major crime investigator, and crimes against persons investigator. During these assignments, I have assisted in serving more than 252 search warrants.
On 11/24/ll Springfield Police Officers were dispatched to 741 S. Hazelnut, Springfield Greene County Missouri in reference to an assault involving a vehicle. The victims, Thomas A. Russell and Brian L; Patterson reported a male subject driving a silver car stopped at 741 S. Hazelnut and engaged in a verbal disturbance. At some point the subject the silver car gave them business cards identifying him as Nicholas Ibarra, Springfield City Council Person. The subject verbally identified himself as Nicholas Ibarra. Russell and Patterson reported seeing an open container of beer in the car Ibarra was driving and told him they were calling police to address the open container in his car. Ibarra got into the driver’s seat of the car and prepared to leave. Patterson and Thomas stood at the open driver’s window and told Ibarra to give them his keys and the beer bottle. The intent was for Ibarra to stay at the address until police arrived. Patterson put his hand inside the window to get the keys. Russell began dialing 9-l-l. At this point Ibarra drove away at a high rate of speed in reverse. Patterson and Russell reported Ibarra held on to Patterson’s arm in an alleged intentional attempt to hold him to the car. Russell reported he ran beside the car for about 20 to 25 feet in an attempt to pull Patterson free. Russell lost his footing and fell. Patterson continued being dragged away with the car. When the car got to 640 S. Hazelnut, it grazed a brick mailbox with the driver’s side of the car. This caused Patterson to strike the mailbox and be knocked free from the car. The silver car left the area.
Later in the same day Springfield Police Officers contacted Nicholas Ibarra at 940 S. Pickwick, Springfield Greene County Missouri. Ibarra had called 9-1-1 and requested officers contact him. Ibarra confirmed he was involved in the incident at 741 S. Hazelnut. Ibarra told Officer J. Steele he drove his vehicle in reverse away from the address and struck a mailbox with a subject either in or on his car. Ibarra owns a silver 2005 Mazda 626. Officer Steele observed and photographed damage to the driver’s side of the car corroborating the stories of the victims that Ibarra struck a mailbox with the driver’s side of the car. The damage consisted of damage to the driver’s side minor and damage to the rear driver’s side quarter panel. Ibarra told Officer Steele the mirror was damaged by the subject hanging on to the car. Ibarra told Officer Steele the damage to the quarter panel was caused when he stuck the mailbox.
Anita Cotter is the assistant city clerk for the city of Springfield. Some of Cotter’s duties include being a liaison for city council persons." Major Kevin Routh notified me on 11/29/ll Cotter had reported Ibarra called her on l l/24/ ll in reference to the above incident. Major Routh advised Cotter might have a text message Ibarra in reference to his involvement. Major Routh contacted me later in the same day and advised Jim O’Neal and Greg Burris reported receiving phone calls and/or text messages from Ibarra in reference to this incident.
On 11/30/11 Missouri Highway Patrol Detective Robert Vaughn and I interviewed Cotter in her office. Cotter told us Ibarra called her cell phone on 11/24/11 but she did not answer. Very soon after the call Cotter received a text message from Ibarra. Cotter advised the text message said something similar to “I’ve been burned. I think I ran over someone but he was assaulting me.” Cotter advised she was having some type of malfunction with her phone and the message had been lost. Cotter advised she called Ibarra. He told her what had happened and asked her what to do. Cotter told Ibarra to call the mayor, Jim O’Neal and the city manager, Greg Burris. Cotter gave voluntary consent to search the contents of her cell phone. ‘Computer Forensics Investigator Chris Woods attempted to download information from Cotter’s phone in an attempt to retrieve the text message but was unable due to issues with Cotter’s phone.
On 12/1/11 Missouri State Highway Patrol Detective Vaughn and I interviewed Burris and O’Neal in Burris’s office at 840 Boonville, Springfield Greene County Missouri. O’Neal advised he had received a phone call from Ibarra on his cell phone on 11/24/11 in which Ibarra told him about the situation that occurred at 741 S. Hazelnut. Burris reported receiving a phone call on his cell phone from Ibarra on 11/24/11 in which Ibarra told him about the situation that occurred at 741 S. Hazelnut. Both Burris and O’Neal gave voluntary consent to search the contents of their cell phones. Computer Forensic Investigator Chris Woods was able to retrieve partial information from Burris and O’Neal’s cell phones. However he was unable to retrieve text messages that had been deleted.
During follow up investigation, I found Burris and Ibarra’s cell phone service provider is AT&T. O’Neal’s cell phone service provider is Verizon.
Based on the above listed information, I believe evidence of those phone contacts will be located within the requested records and I believe that the aforementioned evidence will be located at 11760 U.S. Highway 1 North Palm Beach Florida (corporate office for AT&T.)