A San Marcos Police Department officer has been indefinitely suspended from the force after his alleged assault on a Texas State student prompted an internal investigation.
Police Chief Howard Williams said the investigation on Cpl. James Palermo has been completed. Palermo was indefinitely suspended Aug. 23, the civil service equivalent of being fired. An incident involving Alexis Alpha, a 22-year-old marketing junior, sparked the investigation leading to his termination.
Alpha said Palermo broke her teeth and gave her a concussion during an alleged illegal arrest May 29. Her arrest occurred during an unrelated routine traffic stop Palermo was conducting around 1:10 a.m. near 126 S. Guadalupe St., according to the affidavit for his arrest. Palermo was placed on restricted duty July 10 and was arrested July 16 for aggravated assault with serious bodily injury by a public servant, a first-degree felony.
“Palermo’s disciplinary hearing was on Friday afternoon (Aug. 23), and I indefinitely suspended him,” Williams said.
Williams said John Curtis, Palermo’s lawyer, filed paperwork the morning of Aug. 26 with the Civil Service Commission to appeal the decision to indefinitely suspend him. He said Curtis is from the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas office in Austin.
Curtis said the hearing for Palermo’s appeal has not yet been scheduled, and the case against the department has not been developed since it is still early in the process.
“It’s (Palermo’s) right to appeal and make the department and the city prove what they’ve alleged,” Curtis said.
Curtis said he does not know what Palermo’s plans for the future are if the appeal of his suspension is not successful.
In light of Palermo’s upcoming appeals, Williams said he is not aware if Alpha plans to take any legal action against the former officer.
Michael Wadler, Alpha’s attorney, said he had not heard of Palermo’s indefinite suspension until speaking with The University Star.
Wadler said Alpha came to him “to seek legal advice, and (is) looking at all the different options.” He said at this time no decision has been made to take legal action against Palermo on the part of Alpha.
“If what happened to Alexis is any indication of this officer, then it was probably a good decision to take him off the streets,” Wadler said.
Wadler said he “has no idea” if Alpha is aware of Palermo’s indefinite suspension, and his situation will not be factored into Alpha’s decision whether or not to take legal action against him.
“I know that (Alpha) will be relieved,” Wadler said. “It’s been a very, very hard ordeal for her because we go through life somewhat innocent, and you see things happen on the news, but to imagine that it can happen to you is just something that no one really considers. And what may be somebody’s fear is her reality. There’s certainly some innocence lost.”