Hays County prosecutors dropped criminal charges against a 24-year-old man suing the city of San Marcos and a former police officer who used a stun gun against him during a traffic stop in January 2021.
Albian Leyva of San Marcos alleges in his federal lawsuit that then-police sergeant. Ryan Hartman, who has since been fired from the force, used a stun gun on him “for no reason”. Leyva, who was a passenger in the car that was stopped, had been charged with interference with public duties, a class B misdemeanor.
The Hays County District Attorney’s Office did not comment on the decision, but shared with the American statesman a June 17 email in which Jeffrey Weatherford, an assistant criminal district attorney, confirmed that ” the state filed a remand in court this afternoon.”
Last week, Leyva filed her lawsuit, which not only claims her constitutional rights were violated, but also alleges that San Marcos Police Chief Stan Standridge failed to adequately oversee his department and Hartman, which which made Hartman think it would be okay to cut off his body. -wear the camera audio and use the stun gun for no reason.
Rebecca Webber, an attorney representing Leyva, said the charges dismissed by the district attorney’s office help prove Leyva’s allegations and strengthen her case.
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“First, it shows that Hartman’s absurd accusation that Al was interfering with the San Marcos Police Department while his hands were up was a diversion to cover up and distract from the fact that he had just ‘assault an unarmed, cooperative young man for no reason,’ she told the Statesman.
Leyva had no criminal record, was unarmed and was complying with police orders before the stun gun was used on him, his lawyer said.
Saint-Marc police sergeant. Ryan Hartman faces another lawsuit
Hartman, who was fired from the San Marcos Police Department for unrelated misconduct earlier this year, has been under intense scrutiny since June 2020 for his role in a Lockhart collision that left a woman dead. He was off duty and driving his personal van. An open beer container was later discovered in its center console. Police suspected Hartman of driving while intoxicated and charged him with criminally negligent homicide.
But his blood toxicology report, which was commissioned hours after the incident, came back clean and a Caldwell County grand jury declined to indict him in December 2020.
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Hartman also faces a separate civil lawsuit from crash survivor Pamela Watts, who is suing him for personal damages, including hospital bills, emotional distress, disfigurement and impairment. The case has not yet been heard in court.
In January, Hartman, who had worked for the San Marcos Police Department since 2007, was fired for misconduct related to breaches of duty and insubordination. The layoff was unrelated to the crash, San Marcos city officials said.
Hartman appealed his return to work, which went through a two-day arbitration hearing in April. Leyva’s filing comes just weeks before a final decision on Hartman’s reinstatement is due. The 2021 use of force incident involving Leyva was discussed at the April hearing.
According to city documents, Hartman was placed on unpaid leave for a week last July following the incident. He also had to retrain to defuse and minimize the use of force, and resume tactical officer training.
In a suspension letter from Standridge to Hartman, Standridge said “you used unnecessary and unreasonable force, and you failed to notify the suspect that you were going to use such force.”
What was Albian Leyva accused of in San Marcos
According to an incident report from the night of Jan. 12, 2021, San Marcos police responded around 2 a.m. to a convenience store where a man had shoplifted eight phone chargers worth $89.
Police identified the suspected thief and arrested him. During the traffic stop, police said they found phone chargers and illegal drugs on the driver. Leyva was a passenger in the back of the vehicle, and he did not steal anything or take drugs, an internal city document says.
According to the internal review report, Leyva got out of the back seat with her hands up. The top of a black flat object was exposed in the back right pocket of his jeans, he was then told to get on his knees. The police continued to give her orders and Leyva continued to obey.
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Leyva then preemptively reached into her back right pocket for her wallet to grab her ID card, as the police continued to shout orders at her. Leyva also eventually reached for his cellphone to possibly record a video of the officers, but he continued to obey the officers’ orders, the report said.
Hartman then, in a lower volume, ordered an officer to shine a light on Leyva and said he was going to use a stun gun on him.
“For 15 seconds, no further instructions were given to Leyva by anyone,” the internal report said. .
Hartman and two other officers began to walk towards Leyva, when Hartman yelled at Leyva to come back to him, but a second later Hartman used the stun gun on him before giving Leyva a chance to comply, the report says. report. A second officer used a stun gun seconds later.
“No warning of possible Taser deployment was provided to Leyva although there was ample time to do so,” the report said.
Furthermore, the report states that Leyva did not act or say anything aggressive, or display a threat.
Webber previously told the statesman that Leyva was seeking damages for her physical pain from the use of force and her past and future mental anguish, attorneys’ fees, expenses and other costs.
The lawsuit against Hartman and the city of San Marcos is seeking a jury trial in federal court, but no date has been set.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Hays County drops charges against San Marcos man suint city, police