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City of San Marcos Claims to Reach Settlement in 1 Hartman Lawsuit

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City of San Marcos Claims to Reach Settlement in 1 Hartman Lawsuit

On June 14, 2022, a complaint was filed in the Western District of Texas under cause 1:22-CV-00580. It was styled Albian Leyva v. Ryan Hartman, and City of San Marcos.

The initial complaint filed into the court begins as follows:

This is a lawsuit about former San Marcos Police Sergeant Ryan Hartman who tased Albian Leyva for no reason in January 2021. Hartman is infamous in central Texas for killing Jennifer Miller and catastrophically injuring her partner Pam Watts in an off-duty, alcohol-related wreck in June 2020.

This lawsuit is also about the City of San Marcos’s appalling inattention to this DUI-related homicide by one of its police supervisors. The San Marcos Police Department did next to nothing in response to Sergeant Hartman’s deadly crime. He was allowed a lengthy, paid sabbatical and returned to work in December 2020 as if he had never killed Jen while driving with an open container.

Six weeks after Hartman returned to fulltime work at SMPD, he exercised the extraordinary impunity gifted to him by SMPD’s failure to supervise him and tased Al for no reason during a traffic stop.

If San Marcos leadership had bothered to scrutinize Hartman’s clear lack of judgment to be a police officer, Hartman would not have been a San Marcos police officer and would not have tased Al in January 2021.

Albian Leyva v. Ryan Hartman et al., titled Complaint, filed June 14, 2022, in the Western District of Texas in cause 1:22-CV-00580, by counsel for the Plaintiff (Rebecca Weber of Webber Law)

The Facts Claimed Towards the City of San Marcos

In the initial complaint related to the City of San Marcos, the counsel for the Plaintiff laid out twenty-three (23) lines which she asserts as facts:

Ryan Hartman is not qualified to be a police officer, much less a police supervisor.

In June 2020, Hartman was speeding and ran a stop sign, killing Jennifer Miller who had the right of way. First responders documented Hartman’s open, nearly finished Dos Equis tallboy and his confession taking responsibility for Jen’s fatality at the scene.

The City of San Marcos gave Hartman a paid sabbatical from his work as a police sergeant after he killed Jen. SMPD did not investigate Hartman’s criminally negligent homicide. Despite Hartman’s clear lack of judgment and his unfitness to be a police officer, San Marcos leadership returned Hartman to fulltime police work on December 1, 2020. The City of San Marcos paid Hartman approx. $38,000 during his sabbatical.

Six weeks after his sabbatical ended, on January 12, 2021, Hartman participated in an SMPD traffic stop. The Plaintiff in this case, Al Leyva, was a passenger in the back seat of the car that was pulled over.

Internal City of San Marcos documents describe the circumstances leading up to Hartman’s unnecessary use of force as follows:

“Albain [sic] Leyva was the back-right passenger and he exited the vehicle with his empty hands raised approximately shoulder height. The top of a flat and black in color object was exposed in Leyva’s back right jeans pocket. Perkins began giving Leyva commands almost immediately telling Leyva to get on his knees.”

“Leyva complied and walked approximately 8 feet to the right of the car to the sidewalk and began taking off his jacket in a deliberate manner. Perkins gave Leyva commands to show his hands as they were briefly obscured by the jacket’s sleeve as Leyva removed the jacket. As Leyva arrived at the side walk, Leyva allowed his jacket to swing onto the ground as he kneeled. This happened in a matter of ~3 seconds. While Perkins was attempting to give Leyva directions, Sgt. Hartman began to shout directions at Leyva to ‘come back over this way. Come over to me.’ conflicting with Perkins verbal commands to get on his knees.”

“While Leyva knelt facing away from Perkins and Hartman, he raised his hands to shoulder height making them visible again to comply with Perkins. Hartman began to give Leyva verbal commands. Sgt. Hartman’s voice commands sound much louder on both his and Perkins body cams than Perkins’s commands as he commands Leyva ‘Passenger, back up to the sound of my voice. Stand up.’”

“Leyva does not rise but with his right hand retrieves the object from his back pocket and brings it in front of him to waist level and appears to begin to manipulate it obscured from the officers. Sgt. Hartman tells Leyva ‘Show us your hands. Do it now.’ For approximately 5 seconds, Leyva continues to appear to manipulate the object in front of him as now Perkins commands Leyva to show his hands. Leyva complies by returning the object to his back-right pocket while simultaneously raising that hand as well.”

“As Leyva was returning the object to his pocket, he purposefully drops a small, thin object near his right knee. This object made a sound which, having time to review the video, is consistent with an ID card. Leyva had been retrieving his ID card preemptively from his wallet which was in his back-right pocket. Sgt. Hartman tells Leyva to ‘Stand up’ and Leyva does so quickly and compliantly.”

“As Leyva stands, he retrieves his ID from the ground which causes both Hartman and Perkins to verbally address his reaching. Leyva complies and lifts both hands showing his ID in his right hand. Hartman commands Leyva ‘Hands up!’ and twice to ‘Face away from me.’ Perkins is loudly commanding ‘Come over here’ about the same time. This prompts Garcia to ask Perkins if he is talking to him. Perkins then begins shouting at Garcia to be quiet as Leyva is left standing stationary facing officers.”

“Leyva replies ‘Y’all don’t need to do this.’ while dropping his hands, transferring the ID very briefly to his left hand, and then raising his hands up again to comply. He then transfers the ID back to his right hand and uses his left hand to reach into his left front pocket where he retrieves his phone.”

“He begins to use his phone at face level in his right hand to possibly video officers. Garcia, meanwhile is still belligerent on the ground not in custody on the driver’s side of the car, continues to be verbally disruptive. Sgt Hartman, in a lower volume tells Officer Begwin or Perkins, ‘Put your light on him. I’m going to tase this guy.’ Officer Melendrez, without an operational body cam asks ‘Want to Tase him?’ Hartman replies ‘Yep.’”

“For ~15 seconds no further directions had been given to Leyva by anyone. Leyva had been standing with both hands exposed, one holding his phone at face level and the other in view at his side, during this time.”

“As Hartman made the decision to approach Leyva, who was still in an area adjacent to the car with open doors and occupants, Leyva had both hands up above his shoulders with his phone in right hand and ID in his left for ~ 6 seconds. Hartman, Melendrez and Begwin began to approach Leyva. Hartman yelled to Leyva ‘Come to me now! Come to me now!’ but a split second later deployed Taser on Leyva not giving Leyva a chance to comply. As Sgt. Hartman was yelling ‘Come to me now’, Melendrez calls out ‘Taser! Taser!’ and deploys his Taser on Leyva.”

“No warning of possible taser deployment was provided to Leyva though there was ample time to do so.”

“No lesser means of control was attempted despite Sgt. Hartman’s large build and defensive tactics instructor status.”

“Although Leyva was delayed in some of his concession, he was still generally compliant with officers’ commands and offered only one statement ‘Y’all don’t have to do this.’ Some of Leyva’s lack of quick compliance with officer orders can easily be attributed to conflicting commands from two separate officers, Hartman and Perkins.”

“Leyva’s production of his driver’s license, his non-aggressive stance, and his lack of verbal resistance should have been observed as willingness to cooperate.”

“For approximately 15 seconds prior to being tased, Leyva’s hands were in view.”

“At the time Sgt. Hartman deployed his CED on Leyva, Leyva was not acting or verbalizing aggressively nor displaying any threat.”

San Marcos Police Chief Stan Standridge suspended Hartman for 40 hours on July 1, 2021 for tasing Al because “there were no reasonable circumstances justifying such force.”2

Hartman—who had already been allowed a lengthy paid sabbatical from June 10, 2020 through December 1, 2020—was allowed to trade 40 hours of his hundreds of hours of accrued vacation time in lieu of actually serving the suspension.

Albian Leyva v. Ryan Hartman et al., titled Complaint, filed June 14, 2022, in the Western District of Texas in cause 1:22-CV-00580, by counsel for the Plaintiff (Rebecca Weber of Webber Law)

City of San Marcos Stipulate a Joint Settlement is to be Finalized

After months of continuous court filings a document titled “Joint Notice of Settlement,” was filed into the cause. The filing, involving the City of San Marcos, states the following:

The parties, through undersigned counsel, jointly provide this notice to the Court that they reached a settlement in principal. The parties are in the process of preparing and finalizing settlement documentation. The parties anticipate completing that process within 30 days, at which time they will file an appropriate stipulation to dismiss this matter.

Albian Leyva v. Ryan Hartman et al., titled Joint Notice of Settlement, filed March 22, 2023, in the Western District of Texas in cause 1:22-CV-00580, by Plaintiff and Defense Counsel.

One day after the “Joint Notice of Settlement,” was filed, the presiding United States District Judge Lee Yeakel ordered the parties to file a motion to dismiss or stipulations of dismissal on or before April 21, 2023.

It is anticipated the City of San Marcos will be settling one of the Hartman matters, but any word on what the settlement entails or what the parties agree too has not been released; as far as we know.

A Couple of Our Other Reads

You may be interested in reading about the San Marcos Police suspensions for the 2021 calendar year.

Or you may find the San Marcos Police suspensions for the 2022 calendar year of interest.

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