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Ex-San Marcos PD sergeant’s general discharge is latest inconsistency from department

San Marcos, Texas – A San Marcos Police Department sergeant fired earlier this year for rule violations, including insubordination, managed to get a general discharge from the agency, documents obtained by KSAT Investigates show.

Sergeant Ryan Hartman’s severance of licensure paperwork, often referred to as an “F-5,” lists his departure from SMPD as a general discharge.

The document was signed by SMPD Chief Stan Standridge on Jan. 25, a week after Standridge fired Hartman.

Among the rule violations cited in Hartman’s termination papers was insubordination.

A dishonorable discharge, the most serious designation given to a discharged officer, is reserved for officers who have resigned or resigned rather than be dismissed for criminal misconduct or insubordination or dishonesty.

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Hartman’s termination falls into the category of a dishonorable discharge. But the decision on how to label the separation often rests directly with the principal.

Standridge, through a city spokeswoman, declined a request to comment for this story.

A general discharge designation has historically made it easier for Texas officers to hold law enforcement positions with other agencies.

Hartman’s attempt to overturn his indefinite suspension last month failed after a third-party arbitrator sided with the city.

Hartman’s permanent dismissal caps a career with SMPD that has been mired in controversy for the past two years.

Hartman hit and killed a woman while driving with an open container of alcohol in his truck in June 2020 in Lockhart.

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A botched investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies allowed Hartman to return to duty without arrest or discipline for the crash, which killed 56-year-old Jennifer Miller and seriously injured her partner, Pam Watts.

past conflict

San Marcos Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp, the department’s former police chief, wrote a statement in June 2021 that Hartman had not been charged with a crime that would warrant his dismissal, to which Standridge responded that the department had waited 180 days. Criminal cases will be investigated and go to a grand jury.

The Local Government Code only allows departments to discipline officers within 180 days of discovery of alleged rule violations.

Hartman testified during his deposition for a civil case connected to the crash that one of the first calls he made was to his supervisor with SMPD, which would have started the 180-day clock on June 10, 2020.

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Since court records show Hartman was no-billed by a grand jury on Nov. 1, 2020, that means just 144 days passed between the day of the accident and the case being closed.

Additionally, SMPD did not prevent Hartman from conducting an internal investigation while Lockhart PD conducted a criminal investigation against him, San Marcos city officials now admit.

“Please remember — if this were to happen again, where an officer is charged with a criminal charge for off-duty conduct, I would not want the department to wait to investigate internally and possibly maintain allegations of misconduct. We have to avoid future incidents and conduct both (criminal and internal investigations) simultaneously. Relying on the CJ system is sometimes easier and cleaner, but it’s often very slow,” Standridge said in an email obtained by KSAT Investigates last year.

The stun gun incident is still buzzing

Six weeks after Hartman returned to duty, in January 2021, he was accused of using his stun gun on a loyal passenger after the man got out of the car.

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Passenger Albian Leyva got out of the car at shoulder height with bare hands, records show.

As Leyva knelt on the sidewalk, he began receiving conflicting commands from Hartman and another officer, internal affairs records show.

Leyva at one point retrieved her ID from her wallet and then dropped it on the ground, later retrieving it and pulling her cell phone from her front pocket, records show.

As Leyva began using his phone at face level to possibly record the officers, Hartman told fellow officers, “I’m going to taser this guy,” records show.

For the next 15 seconds no further commands were given to Leva. Hartman and two other officers then began to approach Leyva, who raised his arms above his shoulders with a phone in one hand and his ID in the other, records show.

A “split-second” after Hartman yelled for Leyva to come to him, Hartman deployed his stun gun on him, giving Leyva no chance to comply, records confirm.

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A second officer, Jacinto “Ray” Melendrez, also used his stun gun on Leyva, records show.

Hartman was suspended for a week and ordered to undergo retraining for de-escalation and officer tactical training after the incident, SMPD records show.

The incident resurfaced in late June, days after Leyva sued Hartman and the city of San Marcos in federal court alleging civil rights violations.

On June 24, Standridge emailed a Texas Ranger requesting that he look into whether Hartman had committed a criminal offense during the on-duty stun gun incident.

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety told KSAT Investigates via email on July 5, however, that rangers are not investigating the case.

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People plan to gather outside SMPD headquarters Wednesday night during a police advisory panel meeting to protest the city’s decision not to release footage of the stun gun incident and to protest Standridge’s decision not to criminally charge SMPD Hartman, according to a press release. for his actions.

Copyright 2022 by KSAT – All Rights Reserved.


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