Protestors, friends, and family of Jennifer Miller, a woman killed in a car crash in the summer of 2020 by off-duty San Marcos Police Officer Sgt. Ryan Hartman, gathered outside of San Marcos City Hall to demand the resignation of city leadership. Protestors are calling on Mayor Jane Hughson and City Manager Bert Lumberas to resign for their decisions to not punish Hartman after his actions caused the death of another person. Although Sgt. Hartman was never convicted of a crime, these protestors are demanding accountability from the city nonetheless.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety documents, Hartman ran two stop signs while talking on his phone, and hit the vehicle that Jennifer Miller was traveling in. Miller was pronounced dead at the scene and another occupant of the vehicle was airlifted to a local hospital for injuries sustained in the accident. Body cam footage and the DPS report confirm there was an open container of alcohol in Hartman’s vehicle at the time of arrest.
Once officers arrived at the scene, Sgt. Hartman admitted he was at fault, saying, “I caused the death of somebody by not paying attention.” During this encounter with police, Sgt. Hartman also refused to perform a field sobriety test and was later arrested so a blood warrant could be obtained. The blood test was performed hours after the accident and the results came back normal, Hartman’s blood alcohol content was within legal limits.
According to city officials, the 180 day window to punish Hartman has passed, therefore they cannot fire him. However, protestors cite several internal emails, made public by FOIA requests, that city leadership was aware of Hartman’s actions prior to that 180 day deadline. Furthermore, protestors continue to highlight the relationship Mayor Hughson has with the Police Officer’s Association, which may present a conflict of interest for her, since they openly supported her candidacy during the election.
The City of San Marcos continues to deny and wrong-doing and cite that 180 day policy as to why Sgt. Hartman remains employed by the city.