An Austin Police Department officer was fired Monday for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a stalking victim while her case was being actively investigated.
APD Officer Jordan Wagstaff, a three-year veteran of the department, was fired June 17 for violating department policies and Civil Service Commission Rule 10.03.
In a memo to the Director of Civil Service Joya Hayes, Chief Brian Manley outlined Wagstaff's actions leading to his firing, including having "an external social/personal/sexual relationship with...a vulnerable victim of a crime," accessing information about the case despite not having any official role in the investigation, giving confidential police information to the victim and the victim's family, using a social media account made for the department to monitor a suspect, abandoning his assigned area to conduct unauthorized patrols, public displays of affection with the victim, giving a firearm to the victim, and continuing the relationship after being told by other officers he was in violation of APD policy.
According to the memo, on December 18, 2018 at approximately 10:22 a.m., Wagstaff responded to a stalking call at a gym where he spoke with a 27-year-old female victim while working an overtime assignment in a different sector from his usual sector.
As he was clearing the call, he flagged the victim over as she walked by and during their conversation, exchanged Facebook information, then later phone numbers. It was after this that Wagstaff and the woman met socially and began a relationship while her stalking case was active, says the memo.
According to the memo, Wagstaff had "personal communications and sexual conduct" with the victim, including frequently staying over at her home; meeting her at a Liberty Hill shooting range in December and having dinner with her afterwards and going to a bar; taking the woman to another APD officer's wedding in January and posting a photo of them on his Instagram; and accompanying her while off-duty to court hearings in February and participating in public displays of affection.
Wagstaff accessed records involving the case approximately 28 times, including the initial stalking report and information about the suspect such as his address, despite not having any official role in the investigation. This repeated action led to a Travis County Assistant District Attorney requesting access to the case be restricted because she was concerned Wagstaff's relationship to the victim may have compromised her case, according to the memo.
Wagstaff also texted another officer in late December asking her to verify if the suspect lived at a specific address and conducted unauthorized patrols outside of the gym on numerous occasions in December and January while on-duty, despite the gym being not in his assigned area and with no authorization or notification, says the memo.
Wagstaff provided advice to the victim such as "suggest[ing] she contact [the detective assigned to her case] to request a buccal swab on the items presumably left by the suspect," which the memo says is "another example of [him] inappropriately asserting himself into the criminal investigation."
The memo also alleges that Wagstaff used a Facebook account he set up to monitor gang members while in the APD Gang Unit to monitor the suspect by sending him a friend request, "periodically check[ing] the suspect's FB activity" and keeping the victim "informed about the suspect's whereabouts and what he was doing." None of this was documented or disclosed to the detective on the case, says the memo.
Wagstaff also gave the victim the suspect's address and told her he had other officers check addresses and that he believed the suspect was homeless. In December, he showed the victim's father the suspect's mugshot on a police car's in-car computer screen after he had asked if there was an update on the case, despite not being authorized to share that information, according to the memo.
In mid January, Wagstaff reportedly attended a morning community workout session at the gym while off-duty, but stayed after "in case the suspect showed up." When the suspect rode by on his bicycle, Wagstaff recognized him and chased after him in his personal vehicle, the memo says. The victim notified an on-duty officer who was conducting an authorized patrol at the gym and the suspect was arrested for an outstanding City of Austin Community Court Warrant, not for the stalking case.
In addition, Wagstaff made several "derogatory statements" about the suspect in texts to the victim, the victim's father and the victim's mother, including hoping the suspect would kill himself, according to the memo.
"Your dad sent me the post where he's threatening to kill himself... Hopefully he does it... I have a few things I still have to do but I'm going to come over the gym as soon as I can," one text to the victim included in the memo reads.
"Hopefully he kills himself... I don't think he has the balls though... I have a few things I still have to do but I'm going to go over to the gym as soon as I can," another text to the victim's father included in the memo reads.
In a text to the victim's mother included in the memo, Wagstaff said "He's lucky patrol officers with cameras were there when I found him."
The memo called the comment "extremely disconcerting" and that "[a] police officer expressing the desire that a citizen kill himself is reprehensible and brings discredit upon the Austin Police Department."
Wagstaff also provided the victim with one of his personally-owned guns he had registered a backup with the department for her to carry to and from her work. He did later provide the victim with a different gun, but the memo says that "does not change the fact he gave a deadly weapon to a person not qualified to use it."
The memo states that on numerous occasions, while on and off duty, Wagstaff engaged in public displays of affection with the victim, including "making out" with her while doing a patrol at the gym and holding her hand, touching her leg and sharing the occasional kiss during her protective order hearings in February. At the hearings, while off-duty and not in uniform, Wagstaff displayed his APD badge in plain view.
One of the Victim Services counselors at those hearings observed the PDA and reported it to the detective on the case, saying it made her a "little uncomfortable."
"As a new employee, I was not sure of the protocol behind showing public displays of affection to a victim in a case with the significant other identifying as a police officer," the counselor's statement in the memo reads. "It made me a little uncomfortable as I wasn't sure whether or not his badge should be out and if his conduct was considered allowable."
Wagstaff later admitted to Internal Affairs that he "probably should not have done that" and "[p]robably shouldn't have gone to the hearing at all," according to the memo.
The detective then emailed an ADA asking if Wagstaff's presence at the hearings presented an issue, at which time, according to the detective, the ADA stated the activity needed to stop and requested access to the case be restricted.
On February 25, Wagstaff was told by his supervisor to stay out of the case and not be involved with it any longer. Despite that, Wagstaff met with the ADA days later who requested texts between him and the victim and advised she may subpoena his Facebook account. Wagstaff then spoke with his supervisor and an IA sergeant about the texts as they contained private messages between him and the woman, says the memo.
After this, Wagstaff sought the advice of another officer who informed him his relationship with the victim was a violation of policy and showed him the relevant policy, which, according to the other officer, Wagstaff read and replied something to the effect of "this was probably gonna be kind of a big deal."
Another officer also addressed the relationship with Wagstaff, saying "it was a horrible idea," but said that "his warning did not appear to dissuade" him. In texts to that same officer, the memo says Wagstaff said on more than one occasion he saw an unmarked Ford Taurus parked near the gym and thought it was probably Internal Affairs.
Wagstaff contacted an IA sergeant and said he didn't know his relationship with the victim violated policy, but that he thought it was just "discouraged." In an exchange with IA included in the memo,
Wagstaff admitted he continued the relationship, saying "I mean it [the policy] concerned me, but I- we- I had already broken the policy. I didn't think there was really anything to be done at that point."
According to the memo, the victim says the relationship began on January 22 and ended on February 22, but Wagstaff says it started as early as December 28, 2018 and continued into March.
Wagstaff himself admitted in a second interview with IA that he had violated several APD policies and admitted to it again in his Dismissal Review Hearing Monday, according to the memo.
Wagstaff has ten days to appeal the suspension to the Civil Service Commission.