Mayor James Liska addressed the gallery and explained personnel matters are generally handled behind closed doors; however, Jones requested a public hearing.
Chief Roberts addressed Mayor Liska, Mayor Pro Tem Sammy Garcia, aldermen and two dozen other citizens. The entire room was quiet as Roberts began his monologue.
With obvious unease and tension, Roberts began by saying, a public hearing concerning a fellow officer is a hard thing to do. “However, there are four different incidents related to William Jones that I feel are important that you hear and observe. I have two DVD’s in relation to these complaints. I feel that it is in the best interest of the city for these incidents to be brought forward.
“I notified the mayor, the city attorney [Harry J. Schulz Jr.] and the city secretary [Rosie Forehand] to advise them of these particular incidents in which the mayor agreed, and we suspended William Jones [Feb. 25] with pay, awaiting the public hearing.”
Chief Roberts handed out paperwork to city officials that outlined four incidents where Jones allegedly did not use good judgment with ramifications that could put the city at risk.
Roberts said the documented incidents, along with visual aid from the DVDs, substantiate his decision to suspend Jones and he feels the council should relieve him of his duties as a police officer.
The first incident was allegedly lying to his superiors (Cpl. J. R. Rodriguez and Chief Roberts) and Court Clerk Gracie Garcia, with reference to a specific case Jones said he filed with the district attorney.
Chief Roberts said, “I found that the case was never filed with the district attorney’s office. But, he told all three of us, it had been filed. I went to the computer to look for his report. The only word written on the narrative was, ‘On’. That’s it. The narrative was not complete and the case was never filed. He was being dishonest by not telling us the truth.”
The second incident was in reference to skipping a training class in San Antonio and not calling Cpl. Rodriguez or Chief Roberts to let them know and not reporting to work. “Yet, he wrote on his timecard he was at training,” Roberts said.
The third incident was in reference to a traffic stop where he arrested a woman for aggravated assault after she allegedly ran over his foot with her vehicle.
Chief Roberts produced a DVD that showed the entire traffic stop where Jones alleged his foot had been run over. According to Roberts, the DVD does not indicate his foot was run over. Furthermore, Roberts said, “Officer Jones did not see a physician until the district attorney’s investigator requested he do so.”
The fourth incident was for arresting a man for “reckless driving” because the driver was clocked at 72 mph crossing the levee that is a 45 mph zone. Roberts alleged Jones said he was going to arrest the driver before he completed the traffic stop.
“If that’s the case we would be arresting people five or six at a time per day for coming over the levy 25 miles over the speed limit. I have multiple citations that this man has issued for going 30 over, 45 over, why didn’t he arrest them? Discretion. I don’t buy it.”
Next, Jones spoke on his own behalf. He said he followed protocol and used his own discretion. He asserted, the state statute states, reckless driving is traveling at an excessive speed. “It does not state the actual speed. In my experience, the state will not allow you to take defensive driving for a speed greater than 25 mph over the speed limit. So I feel if the state won’t allow you to take defensive driving for going 25 or more mph over the speed limit, then that should be considered reckless driving.”
Mayor Liska then asked, “There are 20 plus tickets over here where the drivers all exceeded 25 mph over the speed limit. Why didn’t you arrest them?”
Jones answered, “It is up to the officer’s discretion. We have a lot of power and sometimes we choose to exercise it and sometimes not. If the officer feels it is necessary to dig deeper into the situation and find out why the driver is speeding...”
Alderman Tim Stroleny broke in, “Why did you arrest him? Don’t try to fool me. Would you have arrested me?”
A few laughs broke the tension and then Alderman Murrell Foster asked, “I was curious as to why you decided to make an example of this one man?”
Jones said there was no specific reason. He asserted he was following protocol and acting within the law.
Aldermen listened to Jones as he defended himself on the other three incidents that Chief Roberts had earlier outlined.
Jones concluded by saying, “I still would like to keep my job. I can appreciate that the way I handled these situations is not the same as Cpl. Rodriguez or Chief Roberts would have handled them. But, I have tried to be a good officer. I have tried to help the community. I have tried to make a good impression on the community. I have always tried to act professionally in my job and more or less put on a good face for the department.
“When I got here, that was not the case. I had a lot of negative attitude from people that did not even know me. Why; because I was a police officer for Three Rivers. I worked and got a good rapport with the criminals in this town so that I could work the angle on them. There is a lot of stuff I have learned here.”
Once Jones concluded his account, aldermen deliberated less than 10 minutes. They voted unanimously to fire Jones, effective immediately.