County sued over former deputy’s alleged assault

Colin Smith

A man who a former San Mateo County sheriff’s deputy allegedly assaulted after finding him in his ex-girlfriend’s home is suing the county, saying it had a duty to train and supervise its employees in a way that would have prevented the beating.

Erik Richard Warren Hartelius also names former deputy Colin Troy Smith in the suit filed in San Mateo County Superior Court.

Smith, 42, of San Carlos, is currently being prosecuted for the alleged crimes against Hartelius and his ex-girlfriend. Smith has pleaded not guilty to the assault charges and a later separate incident in which he allegedly disregarded a no-contact order. He faces up to a decade in prison if convicted of the four felonies which were consolidated into one case.

Although the alleged assault of Hartelius came after Smith’s shift ended, the events leading up to it began while he was on duty and he drove his department vehicle to the woman’s home where it happened.

Smith and the woman involved dated for about three months until August 2013 when she chose to try making things work with prior boyfriend Hartelius. Between Aug. 16 and Aug. 17, Smith reportedly texted her several times seeking her location and finally found her at the Underground Pub in Redwood City with Hartelius. A uniformed Smith confronted the couple before driving off. He continued texting the woman who said Hartelius had come home with her but was sleeping in his truck. Smith went to the home after getting off work at 7 a.m. and, after finding the truck empty, threatened to kick the door in if she didn’t let him inside, according to the lawsuit.

Smith found Hartelius hiding on the bathroom floor and punched, kicked and kneed him several times before saying “I’m going to lose my job over this” and fleeing, the suit stated.

Hartelius suffered orbital and nasal bone fractures, a concussion, a black eye and cuts requiring stitches.

Smith told Redwood City police he went to the woman’s house for answers about their relationship after first having a couple of drinks with a supervisor following his shift. He denied forcing his way in and said Hartelius instigated the fight by hitting him first in the head, according to the police report.

Smith said he punched the man three or four times in the face but denied kicking him.

While out on $50,000 bail in the assault case, Smith was then arrested on Dec. 4 for disregarding a no-contact court order and approaching the woman in her vehicle. He reportedly called her names and yelled that she would lose the other case against him and not to call the police. After he left, she called authorities.

Hartelius filed a claim with the county which the Board of Supervisors denied in January.

The county has been served with the civil suit and there are a number of “immunities” that will apply in its defense, Chief Deputy County Counsel Kathy Meola wrote in an email to the Daily Journal.

The County Counsel’s Office will not represent Smith because his actions were outside the course and scope of his duties, Meola said.

Also, he is no longer an employee. Smith was first placed on administrative leave from his job with the Sheriff’s Office and later left entirely.

A case management conference in the civil suit is scheduled for Nov. 20. Smith’s jury trial begins Aug. 18 and he is free on $150,000 bail.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

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