DALLAS -- A Dallas police sergeant with a troubled past is serving a 10-day suspension over a July 2013 domestic disturbance with his girlfriend along Interstate 30.
Sgt. Mark Swindell, who joined the force in 2001, was suspended last Thursday during a disciplinary hearing. He can appeal the suspension. He is currently assigned to the department’s jail unit.
Investigators concluded that he was under the influence of alcohol, was involved in an off-duty disturbance resulting in a physical fight, and initiated an unwarranted lights-and-sirens response from other police officers during the summertime incident.
They also found that he gave misleading statements when he said that his girlfriend was trying to run over him during a 911 call, even though her voice could be heard in the background.
At the time of the July incident, he had only been back on the job for a few months after being reinstated. He had been fired in May 2012 over allegations of prescription drug abuse.
He was reinstated after a Dallas County grand jury declined to indict him on a felony charge. Swindell told police investigators that he began using the medication as a result of injuries he suffered during on-duty incidents.
According to police internal affairs records, Swindell and his then-girlfriend began arguing after a night of dining, drinking, and dancing on July 7, 2013. He told investigators told that he decided to break off the relationship and the argument escalated as she drove along I-30.
“She began to curse and yell at me, ‘Oh you think you’re just going to break up with me? I’ll kill us both!’ she said as she accelerated to speeds in excess of 100 mph,” he wrote in an internal affairs statement.
Swindell told investigators that she finally pulled the SUV over and let him out while he called 911. He told police that she got out of the vehicle and was screaming and yelling that she loved him and wanted to be with him. He said he walked away from her multiple times as he waited for other officers to arrive. Swindell said he began dialing 911 again, and that this time she grabbed the phone from him and threw it on the ground.
He said she retrieved the phone and he began call 911 again. He said she walked to her SUV and began driving towards him. He said he had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit.
“It was during this time that I called for police the final and third time and exclaimed that she was trying to kill me,” Swindell wrote.
He told investigators that her aggressive actions continued. He said she stopped the SUV, got out, and began choking him.
“She grabbed my neck with her left hand and prepared to punch me in the face with her right hand,” Swindell wrote. “I finally defended myself from the attack. I threw a quick series of 3 strikes with my fist that resulted in me striking her with glancing blows in her head area” which resulted in her falling to the ground.
The girlfriend refused to give a statement to investigators the night of the incident, saying she didn’t want to get Swindell in trouble. Officers arrested her on a misdemeanor count of interfering with a 911 call. The charge was later dropped after Swindell declined to press charges.
In her statement to internal investigators, the former girlfriend described him as the aggressor and denied trying to run him over.
She said she put her hand on his arm to try to get him to talk to her and that he “punched her in the mouth and then the nose. I fell back on the ground and he jumped on top of me and struck me in the ear,” she wrote in her statement to internal affairs investigators. “I wasn’t doing anything. I was submitting with my arms up trying to protect myself.”
She said he got off her and she ran back to her car. She said she drove a short distance and parked under some trees to catch her breath.
“I was not the aggressor in this incident,” she wrote. “I was not trying to run him over with my car. I just wanted us both to go home.”