McManus Lifts Lee Suspension; Union To Vote On No Confidence
A San Antonio Police Officer will keep his job after Chief William McManus reversed an indefinite suspension decision for Officer John Lee. Despite the change, the police union will still follow through on a no confidence vote against the chief.
Officer Lee was placed on suspension following the fatal shooting of Antronie Scott in February. Scott was wanted on felony warrants and unarmed at the time. The decision comes a few days after the San Antonio police officer’s association announced it would hold a no confidence vote against McManus; partially on the chief’s decision to suspend Lee. In a statement provided by the city, McManus said he had met with Officer Lee Monday.
“I met with Officer Lee this afternoon and determined that additional training and not disciplinary measures was the most appropriate action. At this time, Officer Lee will remain on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation being conducted by the Bexar County District Attorney's Office.”
In a written statement, Mayor Ivy Taylor said responsibility for the outcome resulting in Scott’s death was shared. “While I still believe this tragic incident should never have occurred, I understand the Chief’s path on discipline here,” she said.
Before the decision change Monday, Police Union President Mike Helle claimed the association’s membership -- of more than 2,000 officers -- is angry with the chief and no longer has faith in him.
“In this case, it was a systematic dismantling of the police department and their morale by the City Manager and Police Chief over a span of years. It's the policies and staffing levels. It's the lack of clear direction and support for the rank and file working their jobs every day. It's the fact an officer, John Lee, was convicted in the court of public opinion, before he received a chance to defend himself before his boss, the Chief,” Helle said in an e-mailed document
He also says the vote would be held without prejudice; or without it being held against officers. The two propositions include disagreement with use of force guidelines and another asking if the union should return to the contract negotiations table.
Jeff Coyle, director of the government affairs office for the City of San Antonio, says it’s clear how the
union wants its membership to vote.
“They are calling this a fair and without prejudiced vote and yet they’re sending out the survey with recommendations from the union leadership to vote no on both propositions,” Coyle said.
Greg Brockhouse, a spokesman for the police union said via text the vote will proceed as planned.
“Our first priority was protecting Officer Lee. We were all thankful the Chief reversed his previous position on John, but frankly it should have never gotten to this point. City leadership rushed to judgment through a media campaign to punish Officer Lee in the court of public opinion. They should have given him due process and a thorough investigation of the facts. John and his family still have much more hardship to face and we will support him unconditionally.”
Brockhouse contends the officers are not being coerced to vote one way or another. Ballots have been distributed and will be collected next week.
Texas Public Radio has attempted multiple times to get interviews with Police Chief McManus but calls have not been returned as of Tuesday afternoon.