Arbitrator to Decide the Fate of Former SAPD Officer Despite Several Discrepencies
SAN ANGELO, TEXAS — An ongoing litigation process between former San Angelo police officer Maryan Cade and the City of San Angelo to overturn Cade’s indefinite suspension from the San Angelo Police Department (SAPD) has left more questions than answers.
In late November of 2016, Cade had been on the job just shy of two years. She was on patrol that morning, when a call came in that led her to the Bent Tree Apartments for an unwanted subject who may have been under the influence, as the subject was aggressive. As Cade and a second patrol car entered the apartment, the suspect managed to exit the apartment complex.
Over the radio, Cade dispatched in that “he (the suspect) may have just exited the complex.” However, a short time later, Cade told her supervisors of some information that she claimed to have received during a conversation with the complainant of the call; yet, according to a video played during Wednesday’s hearing, Cade had only exited her vehicle for a short period of time only to swiftly leave to go search for the subject.
Cade, later told her superiors, Sgt. Vaughn, Sgt. Moore, and Sgt. Holt, that she had made a mistake and that she had been untruthful to her superiors as she was afraid her mistake would make her a victim to teasing and emotional hardship from her fellow police members.
Cade is now accused of allegedly being untruthful to her superiors to cover up her mistake of letting the suspect pass her patrol car. A review of Cade’s patrol car’s dashcam led to Cade’s superiors to indefinitely suspend her in January of this year.
The litigation process began Wednesday morning in a meeting room in the McNease Convention center where Sgt. Matthew Vaughn and Sgt. Cory Moore testified. On Thursday, Moore came back to finish his testimony. Assistant Chief Tracy Fincher took the stand next. San Antonio based Arbitrator Ruben Campos is overseeing the trial. Campos will have thirty days to make a decision on the case. His ruling is final.
Assistant City Attorney Brandon Dyson began Fincher’s two-hour questioning process.
Fincher testified, under oath, that the call Cade responded to on November 28, 2016 was a Priority 1 or 2 call, he couldn't remember. He explained that each call police go out to is determined as either a Priority 0 call, an immediate emergency, or a Priority 5 call, of “small importance” but officers will eventually respond.
Dyson asked Fincher if Cade’s action had brought a risk to those around her.
“Yes,” Fincher replied, "In the initial part of the deal, when she passed the suspect vehicle and then wasn’t truthful ..."
Dyson went on to argue to Campos that the reinstatement of Cade would be a hardship on the SAPD due to the 1963 court case of Brady V. Maryland. Brady v. Maryland was a historic court proceeding that established the rule that prosecution must turn over all evidence that might exonerate the defendant to the defense.
During an officer’s career, an officer could be called as a witness in various court proceedings for their roles in criminal cases, such as their role in apprehending a fugitive or finding evidence on a scene. Dyson argued, and questioned Fincher, of the problems the SAPD could face in court should Cade be reinstated.
Fincher agreed that Cade’s presence as a witness in a criminal trial could prove difficult to the attorneys working the case.
Lance Wyatt, Cades attorney, took to the floor next. He spent some time asking Fincher about various inconsistencies he had seen in the documents and answers and actions of SAPD officers.
One of the Wyatt’s main concerns was Sgt. Moore’s ability to recognize if Cade’s actions should be reported to a professional standards board immediately, instead of reassuring Cade that her actions would not be harshly reprimanded. Furthermore, Wyatt voiced his concern over the fact that Sgt. Moore had interviewed Cade before releasing a complaint form to her to look over, a known SAPD procedure.
“A person serving as a sergeant, [should know] that a Class 1 complaint would include a complaint such as untruthfulness?”
“Yes sir, I would hope they do”
“[Pg 139 of the Professional Standards Chapter], serious personal complaints of misconduct which are investigated by the professional standards section, that's a class one complaint?
“Correct,” said Fincher.
“At what point is a supervisor to refer a Class 1 compliant to professional standards?”
“Pretty soon … I’d prefer that they’d do it pretty soon in the initial phases of the cases, once it becomes obvious to them ..”
“Do you think it was appropriate for the sgt to conduct a 45 min or longer interview of the officer in question [before giving them a complaint report]?”
“May have been too in depth, not saying it was inappropriate … I’d like to have seen it done a little differently.”
A short time later, Wyatt touched on the subject again.
“Sgt. Moore testified that he believes [Cade’s] actions placed officers into a dangerous position or risked the safety of others…Should that have been written in the internal complaint form if the Sgt. thinks that's part of the incident that occurred?”
“ If he thinks its part of the details … I don't know if it's clearly written .. I don't think it’s a direct policy .. so I can see why they didn't talk about that,” said Fincher.
“Were you aware of Moore telling Cade that he would not write her up for her actions?”
“Do you think that’s what officer Cade relied upon?”
“...im not sure”
Do you think she should be able to believe in her supervisors telling her the truth?
“So we have three supervisors, [with a total of 40 odd years of service] … and at least two supervisors in the room when comments were made that no write up [would be made.] So why later, was this raised to a class 1 complaint?”
“That's what it amounted to and that's what should have been done … Sgt. Baldwin noticed it .. “
“So was sgt. Moore careless in his duties?”
“... he was mistaken in his duties ….”
Dyson, after the witness was passed to him, asked Fincher similar questions.
“If a Sgt. makes a mistakes, about what they tell a officer … and later realizes that mistake, what would you expect that Sgt. to do?”
“I’d expect them to own up to it and apologize …. “ replied Fincher.
“Despite the mistake, he was ordered by Lt. Baldwin to write her up?”
“Would [Lt. Baldwin’s order] justify Sgt. Moore to write [Cade] up despite [Sgt. Moore] telling Cade [he wouldn't]?
“He has to write her up.”
In response to Dyson’s questioning, Wyatt asked:
“If he had concerns that she was being untruthful, and had watched the video more than one time, what more do you have before you can come to the conclusion that it's to go to professional standards section? What more do you have to have chief ?
“Sgt. Moore then asked Sgt. Gesch to come watch [the video with him]. Did you know that?
“...After Gesch watched, only then did they come to the conclusion [to interview Cade]...do you think that the two Sergeants, that had [about 25 years of SAPD experience] between the two of them they might have been able to figure out what they're suppose to do according to policy?”
“They’re your supervisors right, chief ?”
“Do you expect them to know the policy?”
“Do you think under the facts that I have conveyed to you that they acted in accordance to policy... when it comes to going forward in interviewing officer Cade?
Chief Fincher sat in front of Wyatt and Dyson for close to two hours. After the two hours ended, former Officer Cade took the stand.
Cade told Dyson that, at the time of the incident, she had been going through a rough patch. She had just recently gone through a trying breakup from a long-time relationship and had been having trouble adjusting to the new 12-hour shifts because of the lack of sleep,
Furthermore, Cade said she felt that she had to go to work as supervisors had begun questioning her on the amount of sick days she had taken.
“The last thing I had to hang on to was my job, and in that moment I was more concerned on how the other officers would view me,” Cade said. The officers teasing, Cade noted, goes unnoticed by superiors and sometimes it goes to an extent to “where officers feel they’re not good enough.”
Another main complaint brought up throughout the almost ten hour long court proceeding, was a typo on one of the court documents.
Wyatt asked Chief Fincher, "Would you say, writing 12:00:00: instead of 02:25:09 is a typo?
“I am assuming its a typo I have no idea what happened … “
“A Sgt. should be able to fill out an internal complaint form?
Wyatt also asked similar questions to current Chief of Police Frank Carter.
“Is this a governmental record?” Wyatt asked as he held a court document for Carter to see.
“Is this a document that is going to professional standards?”
“Do these documents going to internal affairs or professional standards, need to be truthful?”
“When date and time ,,, [are inaccurate] of the call of service.. do you think it's’ a typo to get every single digit wrong in this particular document?
“I think it’s a mistake.”
In his effort to minimize the damage, City attorney Dyson stated that a typo in the date and time "does not invalidate the whole of the document.”
The city rested shortly before 7 p.m, however, Wyatt still wanted to question two more officers.
As of early Friday morning, both sides have rested and Campos has 30 days to deliberate the findings of the case. His decision will be final.
Cade's alleged offense of untruthfulness is seen in the police force as a Category E Violation. A Category E violation leads to an officer’s administrative leave or administrative assignment/desk duty. According to statements made during the trial, all prior officers who have been accused of a Category E Violation, left their job as a member of the police force, that is until Maryan Cade, who says she is fighting for her job.