The former San Marcos police sergeant. Ryan Hartman, who was fired from his job in January for misconduct related to breaches of duty and insubordination, appealed his dismissal this week. An arbitrator will determine in July whether to reinstate Hartman.
Hartman, who was suspended indefinitely on January 18, had worked for the San Marcos Police Department since 2007.
His appeal comes more than a year after Hartman was involved in a fatal accident at Lockhart in June 2020. Hartman was placed on administrative leave immediately following the incident, but returned to duty in December 2020 after a grand jury declined to indict him. charges related to the accident.
His indefinite suspension was unrelated to the accident, San Marcos city officials said during the hearing.
An internal investigation by San Marcos Police Cmdr. Lee Leonard found several instances where Hartman failed to complete paperwork. Leonard testified as a witness this week confirming his report.
“I would like you to reinstate me in my old position before I am fired,” Hartman said during Tuesday’s hearing. “Because I believe I can do a good job. … What I did was wrong and I should have done better, and I think they used (the June 2020 crash) to fire me rather than to discipline myself.”
Under Chapter 143 of the Texas Local Government Code, a police officer who has been suspended indefinitely may appeal that sanction to an independent third party.
In February, Hartman appealed to get his job back, with back pay, leading to a two-day arbitration hearing in San Marcos this week.
It was not immediately clear how much back pay Hartman would be entitled to if reinstated. Hartman earned $41.46 an hour, according to city records.
Bill Detwiler, the arbitrator at the hearing, will decide whether Hartman will be reinstated.
During the hearing, witnesses from the San Marcos Police Department testified to his misconduct related to his performance as a sergeant, including his failure to complete police officers’ assessments and field reports.
Cmdt. Tiffany Williams, who worked with Hartman, said in testimony Monday that Hartman had several outstanding appraisals from police officers.
Police Chief Stan Standridge, who testified on Tuesday, said Hartman was involved in a use-of-force incident in January 2021, where he used a Taser on a man he said had his hands up. .
Hartman disagreed with those claims on Tuesday, saying the man was non-compliant and did not follow instructions, causing him to deploy his Taser. Another officer also deployed a Taser at the same time, he said. Hartman was placed on 40-hour unpaid administrative leave for the incident.
Crash survivor Pam Watts, whose partner Jennifer Miller was killed in the June 2020 wreckage, had called for Hartman’s ouster from the department.
On June 10, Hartman, who was off duty and driving his personal Ford F-250 pickup truck, failed to stop at the intersection of Texas 130 and Maple Street in Lockhart, hitting Watts and Miller. Miller died at the scene. Watts was seriously injured in the crash, suffering multiple broken bones, lacerations, bruises and post-traumatic stress disorder.
It was later discovered that Hartman had an open container of beer and beer salts inside his vehicle. Police suspected Hartman of drunk driving and charged him with criminally negligent homicide.
Police said Hartman did not appear to be visibly intoxicated and did not smell of alcohol, but he refused to take a field sobriety test. Police obtained a search warrant for his blood three hours after the crash. The toxicology report showed Hartman had no alcohol in his system.
Hartman’s attorney, Alyssa Urban, who works with the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas police union, has repeatedly claimed that the city used documents and fouls to hide behind the negative publicity created as a result of the fatal accident of June 2020.
She argued that Hartman’s misconduct was nothing more than “poor time management.”
Urban also pointed out that Hartman suffered from issues related to the accident that affected her family and work life, and she argued that this also contributed to the delays in her paperwork.
In a recording shared with the courtroom between Hartman and Standridge, Hartman explains to Standridge that “I was not deliberately refusing or trying not to do this investigation, I was having a hard time doing them.”
He also mentioned having mental health issues and was “overwhelmed and had trouble sleeping”.
A letter from Hartman’s psychiatrist, which was written three months after his suspension, was presented at Tuesday’s hearing diagnosing Hartman with trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and related anxiety. with the June 2020 accident. Hartman began seeing this doctor immediately after the accident. Hartman said he has been in regular therapy since then.
“There’s no excuse why I didn’t complete them in a timely manner,” Hartman said during his testimony on Tuesday. “My time management issues, being overwhelmed and (having) lack of sleep (are the reason). I couldn’t concentrate at times.”
Hartman also said on Tuesday that he received a lot of hate mail after the June 2020 crash on his work email and at home, further distracting him from his focus.
However, according to Standridge, Hartman told the chief he could do his job with confidence and with clear well-being before returning to duty in December 2020.
Several police officers testified Tuesday that “Hartman was a good supervisor.”
Police officer Kyle Lobo, who has worked for San Marcos for more than two years, said Hartman was his supervisor, adding that he held him and his fellow shifts accountable, including on paperwork and security requirements. training.
“Working for him as a supervisor, he was fair and compassionate,” Lobo said. “He helped me with multiple investigations to be a better officer and did everything he knew how to make sure I was a good officer.”
In his plea for his reinstatement, Hartman said on Tuesday he felt “in a better mental health space” after seeking additional help. He also plans to “do more training and learn additional tools” to help him with his time management issues, he said.