Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick asked the State’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to look into the behavior by the San Antonio chief of police after the chief released a group of illegal immigrants being smuggled in a trailer. The chief admitted to news outlets that he released the migrants to local charities and that he no longer knows the whereabouts of these witnessed to a human smuggling case.
“I am very troubled by the recent news reports of the San Antonio police chief releasing suspected illegal immigrants in a case of human trafficking or human smuggling without proper investigation, identification of witnesses, or cooperation with federal authorities,” Lt. Governor Patrick said in a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. “Such action could be in direct violation of the recently passed Senate Bill 4 and threatens the safety of citizens and law enforcement.”
“Should your office receive a citizen complaint as required by Senate Bill 4, I encourage you to act swiftly to ensure San Antonio Police Department is in compliance with the law,” Patrick requested.
Breitbart Texas confirmed with the Texas OAG that they have received at least three complaints on the matter. A spokesperson for the office told Breitbart Texas they cannot confirm or deny any investigation but that they have received “several complaints” and that the office is working through the forms to make sure they are properly filled out and contain the required information to proceed with an investigation.
Breitbart Texas also learned from San Antonio Police Officers Association President Mike Helle that the OAG sent a letter to the City of San Antonio demanding a preservation of all evidence related to the human smuggling incident. Helle said he and some other officers traveled to Austin on Wednesday to meet with the staffs of Lt. Governor Patrick and Governor Greg Abbott.
“We finally have a higher authority looking into the chief’s conduct,” Helle said. “That is a good thing.”
Helle said there are several discrepancies between the information being handed out by Police Chief William McManus and what officers on the ground witnessed. “The staffs of our state’s leaders listened closely to what our officers had to say,” Helle explained. “They were not happy at all with what they heard.”
The response from Lt. Governor Patrick’s office was “prudent and reasonable,” Helle stated. “There were several unlawful things done by McManus that day, and it needs to come to light.”
Chief McManus arrived on the scene of a human smuggling incident where officers found 12 illegal immigrants allegedly being smuggled in the back of a tractor-trailer on December 23, Breitbart Texas reported. On January 5, McManus held a press conference where he explained his actions that are now being described by other state and federal law enforcement officials as “highly unusual.”
“Once the folks got here to police headquarters we have no jurisdiction to hold them, to detain them, so they were released to Catholic Charities and what Catholic Charities did with them I don’t know,” San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told reporters.
Helle sent a letter to the mayor and city council of San Antonio a few days later asking for an inquiry into the chief’s conduct and for the chief to be placed on administrative leave like any other officer being investigated.
The union president told council members via his letter that his officers are supposed to “hold down the scene and call (federal agents) to investigate and take over. That was exactly what was happening until our Chief of Police, unrequested, showed up at the scene.”
Instead, Chief McManus said he decided to handle the case under Texas human smuggling statutes, something that has not been done before, Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood told Breitbart Texas during an interview on January 5.
“This is the first time since the new Texas human smuggling law (HB10, signed into law in 2015) went into effect that I have been asked to prosecute a case like this,” the DA explained. He said that the chief’s decision makes his job “much more challenging.”
Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also told Breitbart Texas that McManus’ decision was highly unusual. “We had an agent on the scene and a team ready to deploy to take custody of the immigrants,” one official told Breitbart Texas.
Helle said that none of his officers on the scene called Chief McManus to come to the scene. “He just showed up on his own,” Helle said. “It’s not like this was a high profile case where he was needed to address the media.”
He went on to say that he is grateful that state officials are taking the matter seriously. “There is a lot of information the public needs to know about this case. What the chief is telling people is not what my officers saw.”
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX, GAB, and Facebook.