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Chief of Police requests Texas Rangers to investigate unauthorized use of taser
San Marcos Chief of Police Stan Standridge has asked the Texas Rangers to investigate the unauthorized use of a taser by a former San Marcos Police Department sergeant.
Standridge has asked the Texas Rangers to review the unauthorized use of a taser against a San Marcos citizen by then-Sgt. Ryan Hartman, according to documents obtained by Caldwell-Hays Examiner and shared with the Daily Record.
“I sustained misconduct against then-Sergeant Ryan Hartman, which resulted in a suspension,” Standridge wrote in an email to Texas Department of Public Safety Texas Ranger Jose Rodriguez. “Yesterday I received the attached external complaint. To my knowledge, the citizen who was tazed never filed a complaint with the Department, nor the District Attorney’s Office. I have since learned that the DA dropped the criminal charge(s) against the citizen. At question is whether Ryan Hartman committed an offense when he used the Taser.”
Standridge said he would make all SMPD records available for review.
On Jan. 12, 2021, Albian Leyva, 24, was arrested and charged with interference with public duties, a class B misdemeanor, after a traffic stop, where he was tased by Hartman.
San Marcos police responded to a local Stripes convenience store at 3936 South Interstate 35 at approximately 2 a.m. on Jan. 12, 2021 for a reported theft. SMPD Cpl. Jason Cormier arrived on scene and saw the alleged vehicle involved leave the convenience store at “great speed,” according to an SMPD memorandum. Cormier later stopped the vehicle at the 300 block of Wonder World Dr. and conducted a high-risk stop, the memorandum stated, adding that Hartman and additional officers arrived on scene to assist Cormier.
During the stop, Leyva exited the vehicle with his hands raised approximately shoulder height. He complied with police commands and later grabbed his phone out of his pocket to possibly record officers, the memo states.
Hartman then tells an officer, in a lower volume, to shine their light on Leyva and said, “I’m going to tase this guy.” An officer asks Hartman, “Want to tase him?,” and Hartman replies “Yep,” the memo states.
Hartman — after approximately 15 seconds of no further direction given to Leyva — approaches Leyva, who had both hands above his shoulder, and yells for him to “Come to me now.” A split second later, Hartman deployed a taser on Leyva, not giving him a chance to comply, the memo states. Another officer also used a taser on Leyva.
“At the time, Sgt. Hartman deployed his [Conducted Energy Device] on Leyva, Leyva was not acting or verbalizing aggressively nor displaying any threat,” the memo states. “No lesser means of control were attempted. Leyva offered no verbal non-compliance.”
Hartman has since been permanently terminated from SMPD for misconduct related to dereliction of duty and insubordination.
In the external complaint, Jordan Buckley, of Caldwell-Hays Examiner, requested SMPD file felony charges against Hartman for the “‘unnecessary and unreasonable, in Chief’s words, aggravated assault that he committed on January 12, 2021 against a local resident Al Leyva.”
A City of San Marcos spokesperson confirmed that Standridge forwarded the complaint to the Texas Rangers. “The Texas Rangers will determine whether to open a criminal investigation into this matter. The San Marcos Police Department has offered to provide any applicable records related to this matter with the Texas Rangers, as needed,” the spokesperson said.
Mano Amiga, which has been vocal in calling for Hartman to be removed from the force following a fatal collision he caused while off-duty in June 2020, said Standridge made the right decision by requesting the Texas Rangers to review Hartman’s actions.
“Chief Standridge made the correct move in requesting the Texas Rangers investigate the violence perpetrated by Hartman against Al, which very likely could result in Hartman losing his badge, and therefore that looming dangerous opportunity for Hartman to use it to harm other Texas communities beyond San Marcos,” Mano Amiga Communications Director Sam Benavides said.
Leyva’s charges filed against him were recently dropped, according to Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau. In the motion to dismiss, charges were dropped “in the interest of justice.”
Leyva recently filed suit against Hartman and the City of San Marcos in a U.S. District Court, claiming his civil rights were violated when he was tased during the traffic stop.
After Leyva’s charges were dropped, his lawyer, Rebecca Webber, said the Hays County District Attorney’s Office’s decision to dismiss charges helps prove Al’s claims made in the lawsuit.
“First, it shows that Hartman’s absurd accusation that Al was interfering with SMPD while his hands were in the air was a diversion to cover-up and distract from the fact that he had just assaulted an unarmed, cooperative young man for no reason,” Weber said in a previous statement. “Second, it once again shows the complete failure to supervise at SMPD. They don’t have any system to review arrests involving problem officers? They don’t have any system to review an arrest where a problematic officer used a taser on an unarmed human being? Where is the supervision?”
Leyva’s lawsuit seeks punitive damages after “Hartman acted with such disregard for Al’s humanity.” Leyva is seeking a jury trial.