SAN ANTONIO – In former San Antonio police detective Leroy Medlin's short, five-year career, he has managed to rack up three indefinite suspensions -- the police department's equivalent of being fired -- in the past four years. Two of those terminations were handed down last year.
Chief William McManus has said Medlin "believes that the rules don't apply to him," but according to Medlin, the chief's policies, specifically on vehicle pursuits, prevent officers like him from doing their jobs and allows dangerous criminals to get away and create more problems for the city and its citizens.
On April 28, 2018, just after 2 a.m., Medlin pulled over a pickup truck on southbound I-37 when he noticed the plates didn't match the vehicle.
While questioning the driver about the discrepancy, the man, later identified as Beau Dan Gooch, put the truck in drive and took off.
Medlin ran back to his patrol vehicle and began chasing the suspect.
Medlin radioed dispatchers, relaying a description of the truck, its driver and the direction he was fleeing and that he believed the truck was stolen.
When a supervisor asked Medlin over the radio if there was anything else beyond the truck being possibly stolen, Medlin responded, "This dude, he almost ran me over."
According to the San Antonio Police Department's policy on pursuits, a suspect in a stolen vehicle who flees from a traffic stop is not enough to warrant a pursuit. It appears the supervisor approved Medlin's pursuit solely on the officer's statement that the fleeing driver almost hit him.
The chase continued for several minutes at high speeds on the highway and backcountry roads until the supervisor terminated the pursuit when Medlin crossed into another county. The department's Eagle helicopter and a DPS chopper, along with officers from other agencies on the ground, continued to chase Gooch.
Gooch was arrested after a two-hour standoff and was eventually booked on three felony warrants, a parole violation, evading arrest or detention in a vehicle, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle because the truck was stolen and possession of marijuana.
When SAPD supervisors reviewed videos of the chase captured by Medlin's in-car camera and his body-worn camera, they determined he was untruthful when he stated over the radio that he was almost run over by the truck as it fled.
In fact, the videos reveal Medlin was not even close to being struck by the fleeing suspect.
The administration issued Medlin an indefinite suspension alleging he violated department rules about being truthful and the agency's pursuit policy.
During an audio-recorded interview session with SAPD Internal Affairs investigators Medlin had several tense exchanges with the investigators as he tried to explain his actions that night.
Medlin repeatedly stated he felt he was in danger due to his close proximity to the vehicle as the driver fled. Medlin would later admit under questioning that what he saw on the videos did not match what he felt when he was standing next to the truck that night.
"I will admit sir, that the perception and the perspective you get from these cameras is not the same as a live human being standing out there in the field," Medlin said in the recording. "It's easy in hindsight, from where everyone else was sitting to see that camera. I was there, and I experienced it way different than anybody watching the video."
The Internal Affairs investigator also took Medlin to task for driving his patrol vehicle 106 mph after the chase had been terminated. Medlin explained he was attempting to reposition himself in an area he thought the chase might come back to if the suspect came back into Bexar County.
When the investigator asked Medlin if he could have gotten back to that area without speeding he replied, "Yes sir, sure could have."
Medlin defends actions in April 2018 chase
Medlin defended his actions again during a sit-down interview with the KSAT Defenders' Tim Gerber.
"I can tell you this: It's not the same perspective as a human being. It's not," Medlin said, referring to the discrepancy in the video. "It's a wide-angle camera. The car camera and the body camera is going to give you a slight little different picture than what you experience and what you see.
"Especially under stress. Everyone is going to have a different perspective based on what you see and a different opinion about the video, but I think it's very irresponsible and unfair for them to say, 'You know what, Detective Medlin, I'm telling you there's no way you could have felt that way that night' when they weren't there."
Disciplinary problems precede Medlin's most recent suspension
Medlin also gave detailed explanations about his past disciplinary problems at SAPD, which include another indefinite suspension issued to him in 2015 for another unauthorized chase he was engaged in earlier that year. In that case, Medlin was accused of chasing a suspect who fled from him during a traffic stop.
The suspension paperwork states:
Officer Medlin advised West Patrol dispatcher "Somebody took off on me, wanted person, he's got a felony warrant." But after the managing supervisor terminated the pursuit, Officer Medlin transmitted over the radio, "We don't have any ID on this guy, he lied to me twice about his name, I can't verify who he is." Officer Medlin was not truthful in his radio transmissions regarding the reason he was pursuing the vehicle.
Officer Medlin observed a toddler in the rear of the vehicle. Officer Medlin failed to exercise sound judgment when he pursued the fleeing vehicle knowing a toddler was inside the suspect vehicle. At various times during the pursuit, Officer Medlin reached unsafe operating speeds of up to 101 mph.
At the time, Medlin was issued the 2015 indefinite suspension, he was also appealing a ten-day suspension for another situation that happened in September 2014, where he was accused of leaving his assigned district without approval and leaving a female juvenile prisoner alone in a patrol vehicle for 20 minutes while he left to pursue another person on foot.
"We went to arbitration, and I felt it went really well, but the administration, chief's administration, for whatever reason didn't want that ruling to come out," Medlin recalled. "So they used it -- this is how they work, and they continue to do it -- they used that as leverage to go ahead and bargain and negotiate."
Before an arbitrator could make a ruling on that case, the department agreed to combine the two incidents and reduced his total punishment to a 20-day suspension and entered into a last-chance agreement with Medlin.
The agreement allowed Medlin to return to full duty, providing he completed several training and counseling sessions and didn't get into any trouble for a period of two years. That agreement expired 26 days before Medlin engaged in the April 2018 pursuit.
'These offenders that take off and run, they need to be caught.'
Medlin believes he has done nothing wrong and should be given his job back. He also believes the department's pursuit policy allows criminals to get away.
"One of the best law enforcement agencies we have is the Texas Department of Public Safety. They don't have those policies, and it's for a reason," Medlin said. "These offenders that take off and run, they need to be caught. These guys are wanted on robbery, active robbery warrants, murder warrants -- I mean, you've got some big-time thugs, gang members that are getting away, and they know this. They know the system.
"What we don't know is how many of these guys are you letting go, family violence suspects, and murderers and robbers and such. How many are you letting go that are out there taking more lives and causing property damage?"
Medlin receives third indefinite suspension
Medlin said he was recently hit with a third indefinite suspension late last year alleging insubordination. He said that stemmed from a series of conversations he had with a former supervisor who told him to stop writing "at fault" tickets at accident scenes.
Medlin said he stopped for a time but later resumed writing the tickets when the supervisor left his unit. He said he believed that was just the supervisor's preference, not department policy.
Asked why he would want to return to a department that he's essentially been fired from three times, Medlin said he loves being a police officer.
"I love this city. I was born and raised in San Antonio, and I've always aspired to be a San Antonio police officer, and I've always aspired to do something good," Medlin said. "To do something good for the people and to serve in that capacity. McManus and his policies and the city leadership, that's not SAPD. He's temporary. Administrations come and administrations go. Certain policies come and certain policies go. That's not SAPD. So you ask why I want to come back to the San Antonio Police Department. Well, it's because there's a lot of history there, and they still do a good job. The officers, the men and women of SAPD, are out there wanting to catch the bad guy, do a good job. But certain policies and the Ferguson effect, all these things that came out of late, have really bogged down and demoralized us, but that's not to say we can't recover and swing back."
Chief says Medlin 'believes that the rules don't apply to him'
McManus offered the following statement regarding Medlin:
"Former Officer Medlin believes that the rules don't apply to him. He knowingly violated policy and then lied in an attempt to justify his reckless actions. As a result of his violations, he was terminated."
Medlin is currently working outside of law enforcement while he appeals his termination.