breaking news

Central Health parts ways with firm redeveloping Brackenridge site

Memo: Austin officer suspended after driving wrong way in I-35 chase


An Austin police officer has been suspended after being accused of driving the wrong way on Interstate 35 while pursuing a robbery suspect, according to a Police Department memo.

Officer Steven Martinez is suspended from July 16 to Aug. 4, Police Chief Art Acevedo wrote in the memo to the department’s civil service director Thursday. The document says this isn’t Martinez’s first disciplinary action, but it didn’t provide details about previous incidents.

Martinez pursued a robbery suspect on Jan. 17, the memo says. The suspect drove the wrong way down I-35, nearly colliding with two vehicles, and Martinez followed him.

Department policy forbids officers from driving the wrong way on or anywhere near a highway.

While pursuing the suspect, Martinez went as fast as 105 mph, the memo says. In a 25 mph zone, he went as fast as 79 mph. According to the memo, video evidence shows that both vehicles drove through stop signs, red lights and outside their lanes.

Officers eventually caught up to the suspect’s vehicle. While other officers had a passenger from the vehicle cuffed and face down on the ground, the passenger attempted to speak to the suspected driver, the memo says. Martinez then walked over to the passenger, told him to shut up, grabbed his head and held him on the ground, placing his knee on the back and neck of the passenger, it says.

According to Acevedo, this is also in violation of department policy, which requires officers to “make every effort to be courteous and respectful toward all persons.”

Officers also cannot “use loud, indecent, profane, harsh, derogatory language, or use belittling terms in any communication” or “ridicule, mock, taunt, embarrass, humiliate or shame any person, nor do anything that might incite that person to violence,” according to Austin Police Department policy.

As a result, Martinez will have to attend any training specified by his chain of command and be on probation for one year starting on the day he returns, the memo says.

Martinez cannot appeal the suspension, which will be taken into account if he is ever up for a future promotion.

Before Martinez was suspended, the most recently suspended Austin officer was officer Nathaniel Stallings, suspended in May, who was also accused of driving on the wrong side of the road while trying to catch a suspect last fall.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Graham forged deep friendships with Texas political giants
Graham forged deep friendships with Texas political giants

Billy Graham swam naked with Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House, prayed with LBJ at Camp David and said words over the late president’s casket alongside the Pedernales River. He joined George W. Bush for a 1985 dip in the chilly Atlantic Ocean at Kennebunkport, Maine, an unknowing and unofficial baptism for a man close to giving up the bottle...
JUST IN: Vehicle strikes, injured teenage boy near James Bowie High School, EMS says
JUST IN: Vehicle strikes, injured teenage boy near James Bowie High School, EMS says

A teenage boy was struck and injured by a vehicle near James Bowie High School in Southwest Austin, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said Wednesday. The incident happened about 5:41 p.m. The incident was reported at the school’s address at 4103 West Slaughter Lane, officials said. Medics have reported a trauma alert for the teenager, who is...
Man charged with shooting Judge Julie Kocurek takes witness stand
Man charged with shooting Judge Julie Kocurek takes witness stand

The man charged with hatching a plan to kill Travis County state District Judge Julie Kocurek unexpectedly took the witness stand Wednesday in federal court as he tried to persuade a judge to toss out cellphone records that put him in Austin around the time of the November 2015 attack. At times playful and at other times uncooperative, Chimene Onyeri...
BREAKING: 2 hospitalized, 7 floors evacuated after carbon monoxide leak at the Fairmont Hotel

Two people were hospitalized on Wednesday afternoon after a pizza oven spewed carbon monoxide through several floors of the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Austin. Austin firefighters were called out to the hotel at 3:26 p.m. First responders found high levels of the colorless, odorless gas through the first seven floors of the building, and evacuated everyone...
Man accused of lunging at H-E-B manager with knife
Man accused of lunging at H-E-B manager with knife

A man faces up to 99 years in prison if convicted of lunging at an H-E-B grocery store manager with a knife in Austin after she caught him shoplifting, an arrest affidavit said. Samuel Briseno Jr., 32, of Austin, was charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony. Police were notified at 8:58 p.m. Thursday about the incident at the H-E-B at...
More Stories