APD Suspension City
Trio of suspensions lead busy week for Brian Manley
It's been a busy week at the Austin Police Department, where interim Chief Brian Manley issued one 15-day suspension on Monday, and on Tuesday signed two more: one indefinite suspension (civil service for "termination"), and another for 60 days.
The Monday suspension pertains to Ofc. Christopher Williams, an eight-year APD veteran. Last October, Williams was driving off-duty near his home in Round Rock when he became engaged with another driver and followed that driver to his home. Knowing he was followed, the driver got out of his car, went into his house, and re-emerged with a shotgun, according to a memo signed by Manley. A verbal spat broke out before Williams broke off for his own house. The guy he was sparring with got into his own car and followed Williams to his home, where they argued a little more. Round Rock Police eventually showed up, and issued both men a warning for criminal trespass. Williams was officially suspended for violating three departmental policies pertaining to intervening while off-duty, acts bringing discredit upon the department, and reporting procedures (he didn't tell anybody about the incident until his chain of command learned of it through RRPD).
On Tuesday, Manley issued an indefinite suspension to six-year veteran Ofc. Michael Cuellar for an Oct. 25, 2016, incident in which Cuellar showed up to his 5:45am shift at APD's Eastside substation before promptly driving a squad car Downtown to Travis County Central Booking so he could complete a standard Intoxilyzer operator test – only to blow a .065 into the Breathalyzer and head back to his substation, where he alerted his sergeant, Steve Urias, who told him to take a few hours off and repeat the test when fully sober. Nothing came of the Breathalyzer test until three days later, when someone from the Department of Public Safety noticed the reading and alerted APD Lieutenant Blake Johnson. Cuellar later told Internal Affairs that he'd consumed "about three" six- or seven-ounce glasses of vodka and two glasses of wine the night before, and that his final drink was finished by 10:15pm. IA took that info to a scientist with DPS, who concluded that Cuellar's reading at Central Booking would suggest that he was still legally over the limit at 5:30am when he was driving to work. That "alone" warrants an indefinite suspension, said Manley, though the chief also wrote of his disappointment for the fact that Cuellar showed up to work under the influence of alcohol altogether. Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said Tuesday that Cuellar will file an appeal.
Not appealing his suspension is Sgt. Urias, who forewent that civil service right in an effort to avoid indefinite suspension. Manley suspended Urias for 60 days for his handling of Cuellar's intoxication. Urias violated policy by failing to notify anybody in Cuellar's chain of command, wrote Manley, including the interim chief himself. In addition to the 60-day suspension, Urias has waived his right to sit for the lieutenant's promotion exam for two years, and will remain on probation for a year after he returns to work.