AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin police officer who had a relationship with homicide victim Samantha Dean has been fired, according to the Austin Police Department.
VonTrey Clark, 32, was suspended indefinitely on Thursday. In a memo from Chief Art Acevedo, Clark refused to attend an in-person interview scheduled for July 18. When he didn’t respond, the Internal Affairs office scheduled a Dismissal Review Hearing for July 23, which he also failed to appear. According to the Department, Clark was required to report and get permission from his supervisors before leaving his home.
According to the memo, Clark flew to Indonesia—a country with which the U.S. does not have an extradition treaty—on July 17, without approval from his supervisors. The Department is now considering Clark absent without leave (AWOL) since they can’t get in contact with him.
“I am only imposing disciplinary action for administrative policy violations that do not involved possible criminal conduct by Officer Clark in order to maintain the integrity of and not jeopardize the criminal investigation,” continued Acevedo in the disciplinary memo.
During a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Acevedo sent a message directly for Clark: “If you have any dignity, any semblance of humanity, Mr. Clark, get back on that plane and come back to Austin.”
Acevedo says he’s also in contact with the Dean family. “At some point, I have told Mr. and Mrs. Dean, again my number one priority as a police chief is to bring those responsible for the death of that young woman with that beautiful smile and that unborn child to justice. We will continue to do everything we can as an organization to assist the Department of Public Safety. And now that he is overseas, I can assure at some point, our federal partners will be involved in this ongoing investigation as it relates to the criminal case.”
Clark’s attorney Bristol Myers issued the following statement in regards to his client and his whereabouts:
Today’s firing was inevitable as soon as Chief Acevedo pulled Officer Clark off the street and subjected him to constant surveillance back in February. The Chief’s slanderous remarks today confirm that. Over these last few months, his administration has alleged one trifling policy violation after another against Officer Clark, none of which merited a firing. These latest allegations are a stretch of both the facts and policy, and should be easy to overturn at arbitration, if we choose to proceed with it. Internal affairs already had the phone records they claim Officer Clark didn’t produce. The bank records at issue in the suspension memo were not records that he had legal authority to obtain. This firing would be much harder to reverse if the Chief had the political luxury to wait for Officer Clark to be charged with a crime. But based on everything in the internal affairs investigation, and everything made public thus far, there still doesn’t appear to be enough evidence to do so.
The confusion over his FMLA leave stems from Human Resources providing Officer Clark with an incomplete form for his doctor to fill out. That paperwork was amended and resubmitted as required to obtain FMLA leave, and Officer Clark is not AWOL. If Officer Clark truly intended to slip out of the United States undetected, there are more clandestine methods than booking an international flight in his own name and using his own passport.
Earlier this month, court documents revealed more details regarding the relationship between Dean, 29, and Clark. Clark told homicide investigators he had “a sexual relationship” with Dean that was “off-and-on over the last six or seven years, and that he believes he is the father of Dean’s unborn child, Baby Dean.”
The warrants indicate Clark “insisted Dean have an abortion.” After interviews and statements with Dean’s co-workers at the Kyle Police Department, investigators learned “Dean had communicated to these employees if she turned up dead, Clark would be responsible.”
Dean was found shot to death on Feb. 4. No one has been charged with murder in connection to her death.
Written by Calily Bien, appeared on KXAN.com