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

Traffic report for May 21, 2018

Interstate 35 (Hays County): Reduced to one southbound lane between FM 2001 and RM 150 from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday nights. Interstate 35 (Travis County): The left lane on the southbound access road will be closed between Blackson Avenue and St. Johns Avenue until 9 p.m. July 5. The southbound two right lanes will be closed between...
Party boat company returns to Lake Austin dock after legal cease-fire
Party boat company returns to Lake Austin dock after legal cease-fire

At least one Lake Austin party boat company will be able to pick up passengers off of Lake Austin Boulevard this summer, after a reprieve in the legal tussle over the use of a public dock there. Austin Party Cruises sued the city of Austin and Parks and Recreation Department Director Kimberly McNeeley in January after the parks department declined...
PolitiFact: In governor’s race, abortion divides Democrats
PolitiFact: In governor’s race, abortion divides Democrats

Houston investor Andrew White says he’ll protect abortion rights if elected governor despite personally believing abortion to be wrong. During the debate for the Democratic nomination for Texas governor, White declared that a national abortion rights leader, Cecile Richards, said there’s room for people like him in “her movement.&rdquo...
Southern Methodist University removes cultural survey from public view
Southern Methodist University removes cultural survey from public view

Southern Methodist University distributed a survey last fall that asked students to rate how much they wanted answers to such questions as “Why are black people so loud?” and “Do black people hate America?” The survey, distributed by SMU’s Cultural Intelligence Initiative and posted online, was taken down Thursday after...
Cedar Park police, detective arrested wrong Nathan Cook, lawsuit says
Cedar Park police, detective arrested wrong Nathan Cook, lawsuit says

An Austin man is suing Cedar Park and one of its police detectives over a case of mistaken identity, according to a federal lawsuit filed this week. Nathan A. Cook was arrested on a charge of felony theft of services, and escorted out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in August, according to the lawsuit. It names the city of Cedar Park and...
More Stories