Seguin officer who gave controversial courtesy ride resigned after using Taser on teen

Personnel file of Officer Suzann Gonzalez shows pattern of poor behavior

By Dillon Collier - Investigative Reporter

SEGUIN, Texas - A Seguin police officer who gave a courtesy ride to a man later hit and killed on Interstate 10 used her department issued Taser on a teenager weeks later in an unrelated incident, according to personnel records released to the KSAT 12 Defenders.

Officer Suzann Gonzalez resigned at the end of May, after serving a six-day suspension related to the Taser incident.

In audio of the April 16 encounter, captured on Gonzalez's body-worn microphone, she is heard arguing with teenagers and using expletives for several minutes before using her Taser on one of them.

Gonzalez and other Seguin police officers were called to a home on Rosemary Drive for a report of suspicious people on a roof.

"That black kid right there is all mouthy," Gonzalez said to another officer on scene near the beginning of the recording.

"Don't tell me how to do my job, bro," Gonzalez told a teen who was arguing with her. "You shut up. You shut the (expletive) up."

Although the incident with the Taser happened off camera, it came shortly after a teen directed several sexually insensitive comments at Gonzalez and then refused to sign a ticket.

Gonzalez claimed the teen hit her, a statement quickly refuted by the teen and other people at the scene. He was later treated by a paramedic but was not seriously injured, according to the audio.

In a letter sent to Seguin Police Chief Kevin Kelso, Gonzalez admitted that her language was inappropriate and that her behavior fell short of department expectations.

An internal investigation found that Gonzalez failed to de-escalate the situation after the teens were detained by other officers and continued to berate them even after a superior told Gonzalez to step away and compose herself.

The altercation happened three weeks after Gonzalez gave an early-morning courtesy ride to Darrin Price, a San Antonio man who was hit and killed while walking on Interstate 10 shortly after Gonzalez dropped him off at a truck stop near the highway.

Seguin police officials have defended the March 25 courtesy ride, despite toxicology results this summer that showed Price had amphetamine and a high-level of methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death.

"Officer Gonzalez even challenges the juvenile by telling him to hit her."

The personnel records of Gonzalez, who spent more than four years with Seguin PD before her resignation, describe an officer who was often not in control of her emotions at scenes and had been disciplined at least nine times.

A department investigation found that in June 2017 the parents of a misbehaving child called 911 and asked for another officer to respond to their home after Gonzalez arrived first and began to yell and argue with the child.

"At one point Officer Gonzalez even challenges the juvenile by telling him to hit her," the report states. "Gonzalez used inappropriate language numerous times and even tells the parents that 'they need to whip his (the juvenile) ass.'"

Two months later, in August 2017, Gonzalez told a driver during a traffic stop, "You may get away with disrespecting your wife like that, but you are not gonna disrespect me that way."

Records show that Gonzalez then took punitive action against the driver by changing a warning to a citation.

Gonzalez was issued a two-day suspension after the incident, but did not have to serve it because of her emotional state and the financial strain it would have put on her family, records show.

A department memorandum written by Kelso indicates that Gonzalez was visibly distraught and not in control of her emotions during a disciplinary hearing.

Gonzalez was then ordered to through professional counseling.

In March, Gonzalez received a written reprimand after an investigation revealed that two months earlier, she had failed to complete an assault incident report because she was too tired.

Investigators had difficulty following up on the case, which involved a 9-year-old girl claiming her intoxicated mother tried to kill her, records confirm.

Gonzalez did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Her personnel file shows she also received written counseling in October 2014 for damaging a patrol vehicle, written counseling in March 2016 for failing to follow up on a theft investigation and written counseling in May 2016 for leaving a citation printer on the hood of her patrol unit.

Seguin police officials declined requests from the Defenders to be interviewed for this story.

Deputy Police Chief Bruce Ure, who retired days before this story was published, released the following written statement prior to stepping down:

We administratively responded to each performance incident involving former Officer Suzann Gonzales (sic) according to our department's disciplinary policies and procedures. Our disciplinary model is based on progressive discipline that is inclusive of many factors. It is important to note that not all performance incidents were 'major' in nature; however, some were more concerning, which was met with appropriate discipline and corrective actions. Appropriately, the Seguin Police Department parted ways with Officer Gonzales (sic) as soon as it was deemed appropriate to do so. Our employee focus is always on corrective action whenever possible, which makes the progressive discipline model more tedious and time consuming but fair for all involved and is widely used in the majority of law enforcement organizations.  

 

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