AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - An Austin woman said she witnessed a San Marcos police officer drop off a man who appeared to be homeless near Onion Creek Parkway in mid-June.
San Marcos police have since admitted to doing that, but said it was for "humanitarian reasons." San Marcos police said when they met the man who was passed out under a sign, an officer agreed to drive him to South Austin.
Jennifer Hodges was on her way home from San Antonio when she saw the San Marcos patrol car stop on the I-35 frontage road.
“It was when we got to the City of Austin line that the car pulled over and let out a person without a shirt and no shoes on,” said Jennifer.
She said she was confused about what was happening at the time.
“I was definitely concerned for the safety of that person being dropped off kind of in the middle of nowhere,” Jennifer said.
Her husband Jeff Hodges contacted San Marcos police to get more information.
“He explained to me that, in a time where a person that could be passing through or that they considered San Marcos not being their final destination, if they have the resources, they will take them and drop them off in Austin,” said Jeff.
When asked what happened, Commander Erik Spriegel sent us this statement:
“Our officers made contact with a transient who was attempting to get to Austin, as they have services available that our city does not. The person did not have shoes or a shirt and seemed very determined to get to his destination. Due to the high temperatures, we did what we could to provide some humanitarian assistance and took him as far north as reasonably possible. This is not something we do often, but the safety of this individual was a priority due to the conditions that day.”
“The commander I talked to said it's not something that they do every day, but it's common practice and that he himself had actually done it in the past,” Jeff said.
San Marcos police said in a follow-up email Thursday that the man was actually not homeless, but rather left in San Antonio by a friend and, "he stated that he was driven to San Marcos from New Braunfels by New Braunfels PD."
"He was a guy that was having a run of bad luck, and we assisted him the best we could given the circumstance," the email read.
Onion Creek Parkway, according to Spriegel, is the "Southern most point for the Metro bus stop that is closest to IH 35."
Hodges isn't convinced by the department's conflicting messages and is concerned, if the man was in fact homeless, that San Marcos didn't take responsibility to help him.
“They're taking their problem and making it our problem,” said Jeff.
Other law enforcement agencies in the area all denied transporting homeless people to Austin.
When asked if he was concerned about the story, Mayor Steve Adler responded, "The overwhelming number of people experiencing homelessness in Austin became homeless while living in Austin."