A federal judge has sanctioned San Marcos for failing to preserve phone and email records from a former employee related to the October 2020 “Trump Train” incident involving a Biden-Harris campaign bus.
Campaign staffers and volunteers filed suit against San Marcos in June 2021, accusing the city of not providing assistance or a police escort when the bus was surrounded by a pro-Trump caravan on Interstate 35. The lawsuit alleges that members of the San Marcos Police Department laughed and joked about it when they were asked for help during the highway confrontation.
The plaintiffs asked the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to issue sanctions against the city for failing to preserve evidence related to the incident, specifically citing electronically stored information from three people who no longer work for the city.
Magistrate Judge Mark Lane ruled that the city should have preserved the email account and cell phone of Cole Stapp, a former city deputy marshal, after he was served with a subpoena. Stapp left the department in November 2021.
“San Marcos failed to take reasonable steps to preserve it,” Magistrate Judge Mark Lane wrote, calling the city’s actions “completely out of line.” The plaintiffs were harmed by the city’s actions, he ruled.
“Further, the court expresses its dismay and disappointment in counsel for San Marcos’s failure to achieve their client’s compliance with a properly issued preservation letter,” Lane said in the order issuing sanctions. He said it is “without question” that the city was obligated to retain the phones, phone records, text messages and emails of any employee who may have relevant information. “At this, San Marcos failed miserably,” the order said.
But he ruled that while the city was negligent, there was no proof that the city was “motivated by bad faith.”
See here for more on the San Marcos shenanigans, and here for the most recent update I have on the litigation. The trial for the remaining defendants is scheduled for March. I’m just hoping to eventually get some accountability here. The Current has more.