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Criminal Justice

San Antonio Police Officer Who Retaliated With Feces Will Not Get His Job Back

A decision by San Antonio Police Chief William McManus to fire Officer Matthew Luckhurst (above) for misconduct was upheld on Friday.

A former San Antonio police officer who made national news after giving a homeless man a sandwich with dog feces in it will not be getting his job back. On Friday, an arbitrator upheld police Chief William McManus’ decision to fire the officer.

Former Officer Matthew Luckhurst was fired or indefinitely suspended by McManus in 2016 after police found out about the feces sandwich incident. But because the officer wasn’t disciplined within 180 days, he got his job back through arbitration.

According to state law, police officers are granted a disciplinary blank slate every 180 days. By the time police learned about the feces sandwich and disciplined Luckhurst, the window to do so was legally over.

But when Luckhurst’s firing was essentially reversed, he still had to hold out on returning to the police force because of another 2016 incident.

Officials said he purposely left feces in the Downtown Bike Patrol women’s restroom and spread a brown tapioca-like substance on the toilet seat. Police said he admitted to the deeds because a female officer posted a sign in the room asking that it be kept clean.

McManus fired Luckhurst for the second offense, and his decision stuck after hearing examiner Thomas Cipolla said the termination was “warranted due to the egregious nature of Luckhurst’s conduct aimed at women.”

City Manager Erik Walsh and McManus both applauded the decision to uphold the firing.

“This individual clearly has no business wearing an SAPD uniform, and it should never have been this hard to fire him,” Walsh said in a statement on Friday. “I am pleased that this is behind us, but the contract provision that gave him more chances than he deserved remains an obstacle to the Chief’s ability to discipline officers who fail to live up to SAPD’s standards.”

During a Public Safety Committee listening session Thursday, several people were angry and still mentioned Luckhurst’s actions as an example of loopholes within the collective bargaining agreement.

Ananda Tomas called for city council members to stand with the community when it comes to police reforms.

“I also want to talk about Chapter 143," she said. "This Texas local government code is what is allowing corrupt killer cops to be hired back. We have officers with multiple civil lawsuits against them being hired back even if the chief of police doesn’t approve it. We have officers feeding feces sandwiches to homeless men getting hired back. We have officers that have been charged with tampering with evidence getting hired back. And I don’t understand how none of you have spoken about Chapter 143 and the need to repeal this corrupt local government code. We need you.”

The firing comes amid national scrutiny of policing after the killing of Black Minneapolis man George Floyd by a white police officer more than three weeks ago. Locally, activists have sharpened the specifics of their demands for police reform, including reassessing collective bargaining.

Jolene Almendarez can be reached at JoleneAlmendarez@gmail.com and on Twitter at @jalmendarez57.