Former Santa Maria Police Lieutenant Dan Ast wants his job back. Ast’s arbitration hearing began yesterday, in which Ast was accused of negligence that resulted in the death of Officer Albert Covarrubias. Covarrubias allegedly had an affair with a police explorer in 2012, and two officers, one of whom was Ast, attempted to arrest Covarrubias at a DUI checkpoint.
Covarrubias fired a weapon, and was killed by another officer. The new police chief at the time, Ralph Martin, fired Ast, saying that Ast’s poor decision-making resulted in Covarrubias’s death. Ast’s attorney argues that Ast has a solid record, calling him a whistleblower who is facing retaliation. When the hearing ends, the arbitrator will make a recommendation and the city manager will decide on the case. The case resumes today with Chief Martin on the stand.