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The QueQue: SAPD’s Internal Affairs attacked, Sidewalks and sodomy, Benchslaps over sonograms

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SAPD’s Internal Affairs attacked

The Austin-based Texas Civil Rights Project, working with a number of local community organizers and victims’ rights groups, released a report last week criticizing the San Antonio Police Department’s citizen-complaint process, claiming the department still suffers from officer misconduct and lax oversight.

Jim Harrington, TCRP director, claims a “departmental culture that protects its own and is unwelcoming of supervision” has led to a long stream of serious incidents over the past three years, many well-known, others that have escaped public attention. The cases cited in the report range from officer sexual misconduct and illegal searches to allegations of officer rudeness and indifference to victims of sexual assault.

Harrington’s son, an attorney visiting San Antonio for a wedding in 2009, sparked the idea for the report after he came across a woman who had been badly beaten in a parking lot. Harrington claims the responding officer, Craig Nash, was rude, abrasive, and angry with the victim. Six months later, Nash, accused of raping a transgender woman while on duty, pleaded guilty to lesser charges and took a one-year prison sentence. Harrington insists Nash’s aberrant behavior was well documented and should have been caught earlier.

In a short, emailed statement, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said the allegations in the report are either history “long since addressed,” or “simply factually incorrect.”

Harrington agreed a number of the cases had been dealt with by SAPD. Others not so much.

The report cites the case of a teenager who was raped who, after officers left her at home rather than transport her to a hospital for testing, hung herself in the family’s garage late last year. While the mother filed a complaint, SAPD took no action against the officers, according to the report.

Also not addressed is the Internal Affairs complaint process, which Harrington said is engineered to protect officers while also trying to catch complainants in a lie. The report cites Patrick Filyk, a criminal defense attorney and former president of the local ACLU chapter, saying, “There is an understanding amongst criminal defense lawyers in San Antonio that you’d never send your client to Internal Affairs. In fact, it might even be malpractice to send your client to Internal Affairs because it can only result in problems for your client.”

TCRP’s report lists over 40 recommendations for the department, many of which have been identified in various department reviews over the past three years, and some of which are already being implemented. In SAPD’s budget presentation before Council this month, McManus said the department has already started requiring increased training for supervisors and detailed a plan to add video cameras to all department patrol vehicles, and the department has already removed aggravated perjury language from its IA complaint forms.

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