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The University Star


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City council discusses police brutality, rules surrounding council members


San Marcos City Hall. 

At its Feb. 21 meeting, the San Marcos City Council heard several residents express their disdain with the series of events leading up to and following the death of 36-year-old Joshua Wright. 
In December, Wright was being held at the Hays County Jail after being arrested for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. After needing undisclosed medical attention, Wright was taken to the hospital where he later died. 
Public outrage was almost immediate, as it was revealed that Wright had been shot in the back several times. The Hays County Sheriff Department maintains that Wright was assaulting an officer and attempting to escape, but has not released body camera footage. 
During the citizen comment period, some of the speakers explicitly referenced the need for more law enforcement accountability.
“In this town we are still fighting for the bare minimum, that cops be held to a standard equal to the rest of our community,” Samantha Benavides, a San Marcos resident, said.
Speakers also discussed the treatment of those in police custody, pointing out that even incarcerated individuals are still human beings deserving the same fundamental rights as someone who isn’t in custody. 
“If we’re going to be a true community we have to do what’s truly beautiful, and that’s [to] take care of those who many turn their backs on,” Natalie Freeman, a Hays County resident, said.
Another resident, Elle Cross, also expressed discontent with the Hays County Sheriff Department’s lack of disciplinary actions toward the officer who shot Wright. 
“We cannot settle for policies that leave the least accountability for those with the most unregulated authority,” Cross said.
Dissatisfied not only by the police response, residents also accused council members of being complacent. With the exception of Alyssa Garza, no council members of the council have reached out to Wright’s family.
Though city council does not have direct authority over the Hays County Sheriff Department, residents urged them to use their influence as elected officials to catalyze meaningful policy reform.
Despite various residents addressing Wright’s case, council members did not directly comment. The subject that received most of the council’s attention involved proposed rule changes for council members on city committees.
Mayor Jane Hughson presented the changes, the most notable of which mandated the removal of members from committees should they be absent from two consecutive meetings. 
“We have rules for our boards and commissions … if you’re not showing up, you’re not serving,” Hughson said.
After brief discussion and light debate, the proposal was approved by a vote of 5-1 with council member Garza being the lone dissenter.
The San Marcos City Council meets at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Meeting agendas and minutes can be accessed through the Agenda Center on the City of San Marcos website.

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