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A former San Marcos police sergeant involved in a fatal 2020 crash is trying to get his job back

Former Sgt. Ryan Hartman was involved in a crash in June 2020 that resulted in the death of Jennifer Miller.

SAN MARCOS, Texas — An arbitration hearing between the San Marcos Police Department and former Sgt. Ryan Hartman begins Monday, according to a report from the San Marcos Record. Hartman, who was indefinitely suspended in January, is seeking reinstatement and backpay.

The hearing was set to take place Monday morning at the San Marcos Activity Center, located at 501 E. Hopkins St.

According to KVUE's news partners at the Austin American-Statesman, on June 10, 2020, Hartman was speeding and failed to stop at the intersection of Texas 130 and Maple Street in Lockhart when he struck a Honda Accord, killing a woman named Jennifer Miller. Miller and her partner, Pamela Watts, were driving from San Marcos to Watts' home in Kingsbury.

Reports state that police found an open container of beer inside Hartman's vehicle. He was ultimately not charged with criminally negligent homicide because a Caldwell County grand jury did not believe there was enough evidence to move forward with a criminal prosecution.

The Statesman also reported that Bastrop County District Attorney Bryan Goertz handled the case because Caldwell County District Attorney Fred Weber knew Hartman from a previous job, so he decided to recuse himself. Goertz reported that he then reviewed the case, and presented that along with the law to the Caldwell County grand jury.

Hartman was ticketed for running a stop sign, placed on paid administrative leave and was allowed back at work as a sergeant for the SMPD.

In January, San Marcos City Manager Bert Lumbreras informed the mayor and city council that Hartman had been "indefinitely suspended" by SMPD Chief Stan Standridge. Lumbreras said the suspension "came as the result of sustained misconduct related to dereliction of duty and insubordination."

Lumbreras noted that Hartman did have the right to appeal the decision to either the Civil Service Commission or request his appeal be heard by a third-party arbitrator.

As of January, Watts was still pushing to get the case sent back to a grand jury. She submitted a petition in September 2021, insisting that District Judge Chris Schneider respond.

On Monday, Miller's friend, Amy Caperton, and other local advocates will gather in the San Marcos Activity Center's parking lot to denounce Chapter 143, which they say is the provision of government code that San Marcos adopted whereby Hartman can appeal his firing.

According to a February report by the San Antonio Express-News, the City of San Marcos was set to hire an attorney for $35,000 to fight Hartman's appeal and keep him off the police force.

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