chief and watts

Chief of Police Stan Standridge listens to Pamela Watts as she demands justice for Jennifer Miller, Thursday, June 10, 2021, at San Marcos City Hall.

The City of San Marcos released an official statement on Sept. 3 describing events following the death of Jennifer Miller, a woman killed by an off-duty SMPD officer to stop false or misleading information surrounding the event.

On June 10, 2020, in Bastrop County, Pamela Watts and Jennifer Miller were involved in a car accident resulting in the death of Miller. Their car had been hit by off-duty San Marcos Police Sgt. Ryan Hartman.

Since the accident, Hartman received paid leave till Dec. 1, 2020, when the grand jury for his trial decided he would not be indicted with the crime of criminally negligent homicide due to lack of evidence. Watts has been protesting the decision and SMPD since then, asking for the resignation of Hartman.

In its statement, the city explains the SMPD civil service department had a 180-day time window to take disciplinary action against Hartman. The 180 days can also be extended by 30 more days after the conclusion of the criminal proceedings when a criminal complaint results in an indictment by a grand jury. SMPD decided to wait for the grand jury review, which decided to not charge Hartman.

Hartman was not asked to resign during his case due to Chapter 143 of the Texas Local Government Code, which states indicted officers can be temporarily suspended from their position but can only be permanently removed after indictment results in a conviction of a felony.

The statement also released information about Hartman's case, stating that Hartman was proven to have only ran one-stop sign rather than two, that cell phone tower data showed he did not text while driving, Hartman had only been driving 16 miles over the speed limit and the investigating officers at the scene didn't report seeing any signs of intoxication when speaking to Hartman.

SMPD reiterates that they did not receive official information of Hartman not being charged and the case being a no-bill till Dec. 7, 2020, 180 days after the crash. Hartman has only been charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which does not qualify Hartman to be dismissed from his position.

The City of San Marcos states it will provide no further comments on the matter.

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