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DHS Report Contradicts Chief’s Statements on Human Smuggling Case

DHS Report Contradicts Chief McManus Statement

Mike Helle
Email:   Tel: 210.822.4428


DHS Report Contradicts Chief’s Statements on Human Smuggling Case

Already under investigation by the Attorney General, DHS report raises more questions about Chief’s actions in 2017 human smuggling case.

(San Antonio, TX, June 15, 2018) – A U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Investigative Report states that Chief McManus ignored a federal agent’s request for involvement in a December 2017 human smuggling investigation. The Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) report shows that on December 23, 2017, the on-duty HSI Agent received notification from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that SAPD had encountered 12 suspected undocumented aliens in the rear of a tractor-trailer. After speaking by phone with an SAPD officer on scene, the HSI Agent made preparations to have the 12 suspects transported to the HSI Office. While en route to the scene, the HSI Agent was informed by SAPD that the suspects would be taken to SAPD HQ. The HSI Agent requested that the suspects be instead transported to the HSI Office and the on-scene SAPD Officer agreed. Upon arriving on-scene, the HSI Agent was advised that Chief McManus wanted to speak with him in private. The Chief informed the HSI Agent that SAPD would be taking the case under the state smuggling statute. The HSI Agent offered to help with the investigation but was told “No” by the Chief because he did not want the HSI Agents appearance and badge to “scare people.”

The HSI Agent then departed the scene and returned to SAPD HQ to await the suspects. After their arrival, the HSI Agent offered to help interview the suspects as SAPD only had one detective on duty that could speak Spanish. His request to assist was ignored. At this point, an HSI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge called the agent and said that if SAPD did not require any assistance from him that he should depart. When the HSI Agent told an SAPD sergeant that he should contact ICE to have the suspects transported to the HSI Office to interview them and determine their immigration status, the sergeant showed the agent a text that was allegedly from Chief McManus ordering him to release all of them. (“Report states federal agent’s offer to help during smuggling investigation was ignored,”, 06/12/18). The report concludes that the SAPD Officer told the HSI Agent that he had no choice but to follow the Chief’s orders. At approximately 4:30 p.m. the Officer contacted the HSI Agent to advise him that the suspects “were in fact released from SAPD custody and did not elaborate on their whereabouts.”

This DHS report directly contradicts the Chief’s public statements in January, in which he said federal agents could have arrested the immigrants after detectives finished their investigation and “the HSI agent was present at SAPD headquarters and was provided access to the 12 individuals. At no time did SAPD restrict or prevent the HSI agent from taking custody of the individuals.” This is not true according to the report, which clearly states the HSI Agent was not allowed access to the suspects. In a statement ICE said, “HSI did offer up its assistance and San Antonio Police Department declined to take our assistance, instead the chief elected to take the case.” (“Deadly smuggling case changed police policy,” Express-News, 06/12/18.)

“This is a damning report from Homeland Security,” said Mike Helle, president of SAPOA, “It shows that the Chief broke with standard procedure by denying DHS their investigatory role and then released the suspects into our city instead of turning them over to Homeland Security Investigations as is proper.”

Based on this report, SAPOA believes Chief McManus lied when he said, “at no time did SAPD restrict or prevent the HSI agent from taking custody of the individuals,” and we reiterate our demand that Chief McManus be placed on temporary leave or be reassigned as per SAPD policy (SAPD General Manual, Procedure 908 – Mandatory Reassignment).

View DHS Report


HSI Report on Dec. 23 Smuggling Incident by Maritza Nunez on Scribd

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Chief McManus’s Double Standard

San Antonio Police Department Chief of Police William McManus under investigation

He’s under investigation and still working –
Any other Officer would be on leave or reassigned.

(San Antonio, TX, June 4, 2018) – SAPD General Manual, Procedure 908 – Mandatory Reassignment establishes a process for the “temporary leave or reassignment” of an officer who is “charged with a criminal offense or is under criminal investigation based on an allegation.” As confirmed in a letter from the Texas Attorney General’s Office dated May 25, 2018, Police Chief William McManus is currently under investigation for possible violation of state immigration law (SB 4).

On December 12, 2017, Chief McManus released 12 undocumented immigrants who had been apprehended in a case of human trafficking or human smuggling without proper investigation, a possible violation of the state’s “Sanctuary Cities Ban.” For this reason, the Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation and ordered that relevant City Departments and Officials “preserve” all documentation related to the incident. That investigation is ongoing, yet neither Mayor Nirenberg nor City Manager Sculley has asked that the Chief be placed on temporary leave or reassigned as per SAPD policy.

“By not adhering to official policy, the Chief’s telling both his fellow officers and the community, ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ He’s saying the rules don’t apply to him – that there’s one standard for people like him and another for the rest of us,” said Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officer’s Association. “This is a terrible message to send to officers under his command, but it’s also a particularly bad one to send during a time when people in minority communities sometimes feel that they are treated by a different standard. As police officers work to build bonds of trust with those in minority communities, the Chief’s actions undermine our efforts.”

Nobody is above the law, and the San Antonio Police Officers Association is calling on Mayor Nirenberg and City Manager Sculley to follow the law, not politics, and demand that Chief McManus be placed on temporary leave or be reassigned as per SAPD policy. This is about the credibility of the SAPD, but it’s also about the credibility of Mayor Nirenberg, who in a March 28, 2018 memo to the City’s Charter Review Commission stated: “I have stated many times that the City of San Antonio should be the ‘gold standard’ of ethics in governance…” If Mayor Nirenberg truly believes that then we shouldn’t have one standard for political elites and another for the rest of us. When it comes to the law, the Police Chief should be treated no differently than the “cop on the beat.”

View PDF of “The Chief’s Double Standard” ATTORNEY GENERAL LETTER (May 25, 2018) SAPD GENERAL MANUAL (Procedure 908)

Contact: Mike Helle


Texas AG Letter to SAPOA President Mike Helle


The Texas Attorney General’s Office has sent SAPOA the attached letter regarding their investigation into Police Chief William McManus’ decision on 12/23/17 to release 12 undocumented immigrants in a case of human trafficking or human smuggling without proper investigation, a possible violation of the state’s “Sanctuary Cities Ban.” The AG’s Office received numerous inquiries regarding the status of the investigation and they requested that SAPOA distribute this letter and assure concerned citizens that they are working hard on this issue and will let us know as things advance.

Click Here to Read Letter


Where’s the investigation, Attorney General Paxton?

Helle Lemon

Message from the President

To SAPD Retirees and Supporters of Law Enforcement:

In January, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to “review the human smuggling and/or human trafficking arrest in San Antonio for potential violations of Sanctuary Cities Ban.” The AG then sent a letter to City officials stating that he would “investigate these complaints and the procedure in Senate Bill 4 contemplates litigation.” He demanded the City “preserve all relevant documents.”

The investigation is in response to the actions of Police Chief Bill McManus on Dec. 23, 2017 after he ordered the release of 12 undocumented immigrants into our community without properly and thoroughly identifying them. By not allowing the individuals involved to be questioned, the Chief’s actions have already had consequences: the D.A. recently freed the driver of the 18-wheeler due to lack of evidence (FOX29, 04/05/18). In a similar incident last July, an MS-13 gang member was among those attempting to be smuggled, and in March, in yet another case of human smuggling, two people involved were “quarantined on suspicion of having a communicable disease,” (San Antonio Express-News, 3/30/18). Who were the individuals released into our community by the Chief? The answer is: WE’LL NEVER KNOW!

That’s why it’s so important that we get answers about the Chief’s actions and whether or not they violated our laws and procedures.

Will you join me in sending an email to the Attorney General and ask him: “Where’s the investigation?”

Appeals Court Upholds SB 4, Ban on “Sanctuary Cities”

gavel and book close up, shallow dof

Last month, a federal appeals court upheld key provisions of Senate Bill 4, the law that creates civil penalties for government officials who limit local police enforcement of immigration laws and imposes criminal penalties for officials who don’t honor immigration detainer requests at jails.

Despite the ruling, however, it appears some city leaders are heeding the calls of immigration activists who are urging city officials to “risk it” and ignore the law. For instance, at a rally in March in front of City Hall, with people calling on the city to change their policies in order to minimize the impact of SB 4, City Councilman Rey Saldaña questioned whether or not people should cooperate with local law enforcement, saying: “…I don’t know the answers about how they should interact with law enforcement,” and then adding, without any supporting evidence, that compliance with SB 4 means people “may not report issues going on in the neighborhood.”

Councilman Saldaña’s statements last month come on the heels of actions by Police Chief William McManus on the night of December 23, 2017 in which he may have violated established procedures and state and federal laws pertaining to human smuggling and trafficking. In this incident, which is currently under investigation by the Texas Attorney General, the Police Chief, in what the Express-News called an “unusual decision,” released twelve undocumented immigrants, who were in his custody, without properly and thoroughly identifying them. At his explicit order, the procedures followed by police officers handling this case were opposite of those followed in a similar case earlier in the year. In explaining the different treatment of the case, including the exclusion of Homeland Security from the investigation as is required by state and federal law, Chief McManus stated, “it’s not necessarily how every case will be handled going forward.”

The mission of the San Antonio Police Officers Association is to support Police Officers and ensure their fair treatment by city officials. When officers receive mixed messages from the city leaders about how and whether they should follow established laws and procedures, it makes their job more difficult and that impacts public safety.

Our message to City leaders is simple: follow the law, not politics, and support our officers by not sending conflicting messages to the community about whether or not they should follow the law and cooperate with local law enforcement.


1 Express-News, “After SB 4 ruling activists call for local government to take action,” March 14, 2018.
2 Express-News, “After SB 4 ruling activists call for local government to take action,” March 14, 2018.
3 Express-News, “McManus: Police did not have jurisdiction to detain migrants,” January 4, 2018.