San Marcos

Deputy ‘Not Justified' in Fatal Crash With Pedestrian: Review Board

The Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board reviewed a pursuit in 2012 that led to a pedestrian's death

A county review board decided a sheriff’s deputy was “not justified” when he hit and killed a pedestrian during a 2012 pursuit in San Marcos.

The Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) adopted their staff’s recommendation Wednesday, saying Deputy Frank Stalzer violated policy as he tried to catch a suspected drunken driver.

Stalzer began the pursuit early Sept. 18, 2012, when he saw a vehicle straddling two lanes of traffic. As Stalzer started speeding along West San Marcos to catch up with the person, 29-year-old Jose Malacara pedestrian stepped off a median to cross the road.

Stalzer’s patrol car collided with Malacara, killing him. Sheriff’s officials at the time said Stalzer had not activated his lights and sirens, but they also determined their deputy was not at fault.

But the CLERB members decided he was not justified in his actions. In a finding released Thursday, the board said Stalzer violated a procedure that says when deputies proceed on a non-emergency call, they should obey all traffic laws and not use sirens or flashing lights.

Because Stalzer drove over the speed limit, the board said he violated that policy.

In a statement Thursday, sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said the department understands and respects the board's decision. It's own investigation found the pedestrian unexpectedly and unsafely walked onto the roadway.

“There was no maliciousness on the part of our deputy – rather he was attempting to do his job. We recognize all lives – the victim’s family, as well as the deputy’s – have been unalterably changed by this event,” said Caldwell in a statement.

Citing state law dealing with personnel records, she said details of the department’s investigation could not be revealed. “We always review these matters to see if policy should be amended, behaviors modified, or training increased,” Caldwell’s release said.

It’s unclear what the CLERB ruling will mean for Stalzer or if any policy has been changed as a result of this incident. The deputy is currently on duty and on patrol.

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