Mother arrested for giving false report after lying to police about hitting child with vehicle

WFPD arrested Shelby Martinez yesterday for providing police with a false report. Her husband,...
WFPD arrested Shelby Martinez yesterday for providing police with a false report. Her husband, Thomas Gates, was arrested and released in July.(Wichita Falls Police Department)
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 1:26 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - A Wichita Falls mother is charged with providing police with a false report after allegedly lying about an incident regarding her young child being hit by a vehicle. Shelby Martinez, 30, and her husband, Thomas Gates, 31, are accused of providing a false report to police.

While Gates was arrested for the incident in July, Martinez was arrested yesterday, Sept. 17, 2023.

According to the arrest warrant, a WFPD police officer stopped a Honda Fit on the evening of Feb. 14, 2023, for failing to stop at a stop sign. The vehicle had its hazard lights on, and when the officer pulled it over, a man, later identified as Gates, quickly exited the car and told the officer he was driving to the hospital because his two-year-old son had been hit by a car.

Officers escorted Gates and his son to United Regional, where emergency medical staff discovered the severe extent of his internal injuries and arranged to transport him to Cook Children’s Medical Center. Detectives with Crimes Against Children and the officer who pulled the father’s car over stayed behind to investigate the incident further.

Officers spoke to Gates, who told police he was in the parking lot of Maverick on Maurine Apartments when an unknown vehicle with an unidentified female driver and male passenger backed over his son. The father immediately took him to the hospital. When officers interviewed Martinez, the boy’s mother, her story was similar, but her details differed.

Martinez showed officers on a map where the incident occurred. Police drove to the location Martinez identified and found no evidence of an accident. Martinez stated she hadn’t seen a vehicle in the parking lot but told officers that an unknown vehicle with an unidentified male and female had struck their child.

Officers asked Martinez for the truth of the incident, and she claimed she was telling the truth. Then Martinez wanted to leave the hospital and did not want to talk to the police anymore.

Officers then spoke with the child’s grandfather, who witnessed the incident. He told police the accident occurred in the driveway of his home and not in the parking lot of Maverick on Maurine, which sits across the street from his home. He said he didn’t see the accident but believed the child was struck by the car Martinez’s husband was backing out of the driveway.

The grandfather said his son, Martinez’s husband and the child’s father, was driving while Martinez was in the front seat. He heard a loud “thump” noise and came outside to see Martinez and Gates yelling the victim’s name and speeding toward the highway.

Officers located evidence at the witness’s driveway that indicated the accident but could not determine whether it was intentional or accidental. WFPD obtained a search warrant for the car, which had been driven to Fort Worth.

Police drove to Fort Worth to speak with Martinez and Gates. Martinez refused to talk with police, but Gates wanted to change his story. He told police that he was backing out of his father’s driveway when he heard a loud “thud” and found his son behind the car. He took him to the hospital and said he didn’t see his child running around the car, especially at night.

Gates apologized to the police for lying and said he was scared of getting in trouble when the accident occurred. He said he freaked out and didn’t want to deal with the police, so he lied to them.

Investigators also interviewed the two older children in the car, who said their father accidentally ran over the victim. Gates’ statement corroborated the evidence found at the scene and the witnesses’ statements.

Based on their investigation, police arrested Martinez on Sept. 17 for providing a false report. They also served her five other traffic-related warrants, including two for speeding, two for driving without insurance, and one for driving without a license. She is held in the Wichita County Jail on a $2,000 bond for providing a false report. Her husband was arrested for providing a false statement in July 2023 and was released the same day.

WFPD reports that CPS has been notified of the case and will investigate independently. They could not comment on whether Gates and Martinez would face additional charges for their child’s injury and could not provide an update on the child’s welfare.