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Arbitrator upholds firing of SAPD officer accused of smashing ex-fiancee’s face with a river rock

Officer Justin Ayars originally fired in August 2018

SAN ANTONIO – An independent arbitrator has upheld the termination of a San Antonio police officer accused of using a river rock to damage his then-fiancee’s face at a far North Side apartment complex last year.

The firing of Officer Justin Ayars was upheld even though he was never criminally charged for the May 2018 incident.

A grand jury last November declined to indict Ayars, who was accused of fracturing Krista Cooper-Nurse’s orbital and sinus walls by striking her face with a rock outside their apartment.

SAPD officer accused of smashing ex fiancee’s face with rock asks to be returned to force

Cooper-Nurse had to undergo reconstructive surgery after the incident and continues to have numbness in her face, she confirmed to the KSAT 12 Defenders on Friday.

***WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES***

Ayars contended during his arbitration hearings this summer that Cooper-Nurse was the aggressor and that he was defending himself, at one point fighting off Cooper-Nurse while he was on his back.

SAPD Chief William McManus said during arbitration this summer that Ayars’ version of events didn’t add up, remarking that the injury Ayars suffered didn’t align with someone who had been hit while lying on his back. He said that, given Cooper-Nurse’s small stature, the circumstances further refuted Ayars’ story.

“This makes absolutely no sense -- the way it was described by Mr. Ayars versus the way it was described by Ms. Nurse-Cooper (sic) and an independent witness,” McManus said during arbitration. “You have a guy his size beating up on a little, small in stature female. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

San Antonio Police Officers Association President Mike Helle released the following statement to the Defenders Friday afternoon:

“A four day hearing was conducted by both parties in front of an arbitrator to hear the evidence and facts. Based upon the totality of relevant evidence, the Arbitrator found there was ‘just cause’ for the indefinite suspension. His decision is what we must abide by win or lose.”

Police Chief William McManus released the following statement:

“The San Antonio Police Department will not tolerate this type of conduct. The arbitrator’s ruling to uphold my decision to terminate Mr. Ayars was the only acceptable outcome to this case."

City Manager Erik Walsh released the following statement:

“I am pleased to see that the arbitrator supported Chief McManus’s decision to terminate Mr. Ayars. We take incidents of domestic violence seriously and as one of the City’s largest employers we must lead by example.”


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