AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police leadership believes former-APD officer VonTrey Clark broke departmental policies and disregarded department requirements for him to get permission to leave his residence by leaving for Indonesia. However, under current circumstances, Clark’s trip doesn’t violate the law, according to an Austin attorney.
“He’s a free man ran right now. He has not been charged. He can come and go as he likes,” said Mindy Montford, a local attorney and former prosecutor. “I’m sure he saw the writing on the wall that this investigation was moving closer and closer, if in fact he did flee out of guilt. I mean he could, as his attorney says, be there on completely innocent reasons.”
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a press conference Thursday that Clark told investigators he was the father of Samantha Dean’s unborn child. Dean, a victim service’s coordinator for the Kyle Police Department, was found dead in April.
Although Austin Police highlighted the fact that Clark is last known to have been in a country with no extradition treaty with United States, currently prosecutors have not charged Clark with any crime. His attorney, Bristol Myers, maintains Clark plans to return to the U.S. He says Clark’s trip to Indonesia is related to a medical diagnosis, but would not elaborate, saying that the reason for the trip needs to remain private.
Newly released emails from Clark’s attorney back up the claims. The emails indicate Clark told APD he would be on sick time until August 14, 2015. However, he was denied time off through the Family and Medical Leave Act. Myers says Clark wasn’t notified of the denial until he left the country. Myers says his client should return within the time he indicated to his chain of command.
Bastop District Attorney Bryan Goertz confirms he was never notified by anyone, including Clark or his attorney, of Clark’s intention to leave the country. Search warrants indicate Clark’s connection to Dean. However, prosecutors have never publicly named Clark as a suspect in Dean’s death. With Clark overseas, the investigation in Bastrop continues.
“I am confident that the killer of Samantha Dean and her child would be brought to justice by Bastrop County,” said Goertz in a statement to KXAN News.
The disciplinary memo from APD also went into further detail about the case.
On June 2, KXAN News told you about two people in Harris County Jail tied to Dean’s death. Kevin Watson, 31, has been in jail since April 27 on drug possession charges. His girlfriend, 50-year-old Kyla Fisk, was booked on charges of tampering with evidence. Court documents show Watson asked Fisk to get rid of a hoodie police say he was wearing the day Dean was murdered.
The disciplinary memo from APD mentions that in an intercepted phone conversation with Fisk, Clark agreed to deposit money into an bank account for Watson’s father on “the same day Watson was arrested on a felony drug charge.” The memo also states that Clark did not give Internal Affairs records of that deposit.
An APD internal affairs investigation also found that Clark used to be roommates with Watson in 2009, according to the memo.
“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,” said Myers in a statement.
The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, or TCOLE, has no listed changes to VonTrey Clark’s file after this week’s announcement that he had left the country. Typically, a police department must submit a document to TCOLE within seven days of firing an officer. TCOLE still listed Clark as employed by APD as of Friday afternoon.
The TCOLE file on Clark gives a glimpse into his history. Clark took classes at Southern Nazarene University, Navarro College, and Austin Community College. He started with APD in March of 2012.