Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Its all about the trust.

Three S.A. police officers are indicted
Elizabeth Allen:

Three San Antonio police officers were indicted Tuesday afternoon in connection to separate incidents last year, including the alleged sexual assault of a woman in a city park while one officer was in uniform and on duty.

The officers, two of whom have since been terminated, are each accused of abusing their powers, and are among a group of city law enforcers involved in several controversial incidents last year, including the assault of an 18-year-old woman at a community pool and the alleged strip search of about a dozen women and men at a bar, leading to disciplinary measures against those involved.

On Tuesday, Raymond Ramos, 28, was indicted on charges of sexual assault and violation of the civil rights of a 28-year-old woman he is accused of raping in a park last November while on night patrol. A two-year member of the force, Ramos was terminated May 1 and faces up to 22 years in prison if convicted of the charges.

Also, Victor Gonzalez, 36, and Michael Munoz, 33, were indicted in connection to a June 26, 2007, incident involving an 18-year-old whom Gonzalez is accused of soliciting while on patrol on the South Side last June.

Gonzalez faces charges of abuse of official capacity and official oppression, while Munoz was indicted on an official oppression charge. The charges are misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail.
Munoz was suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case, while Gonzalez was terminated May 9.

"Anytime there’s an alleged incident like this, we don’t take it lightly,” said Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officers’ Association, “and whether some people believe it, we do police ourselves.”

Ramos was arrested about six weeks after the alleged Nov. 11 attack, at Golden Park in the 7800 block of Somerset. While the incident was under investigation -- with officers already on guard because of the case against him and several others involving SAPD officers accused of abusing their powers -- an officer stopped an 18-year-old woman.

That woman, who police said did not want to be arrested on an outstanding warrant, told the officer that the last time police had stopped her, she was released after she performed sexual acts on one officer and his friend. She asked whether a similar arrangement could be made.
Sgt. Gabe Trevino, a police spokesman, said at the time that the officer declined the woman’s offer and took her to jail. That officer then filed a report with the department’s sex crimes investigators, who traced the woman’s claims back to Gonzalez and Munoz. Gonzalez had run the woman’s record on June 26, the investigation showed.

Of the indictments, Helle said, “It’s disappointing. It’s not indicative of the entire police department. We have 2,100 officers and, unfortunately, with these three guys, this occurred.”
According to an affidavit for his arrest, Gonzalez stopped the 18-year-old while she was walking on School Street and asked her if she was a prostitute. When she said no, he asked her if she needed money, and she said she did, adding she was wanted on an arrest warrant.

Gonzalez, who was a six-year member of the force, drove the woman to a park near Riverside Golf Course, where Munoz joined him, the affidavit said. Munoz, a five-year member of the force, was then instructed by Gonzalez to block the park’s entrance and wait for a friend, who the affidavits said paid the woman to perform oral sex on him.

None of the defendants could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Therese Huntzinger, who is representing Munoz and Ramos, said she expects both cases to go to trial.
“So far they’ve been judged by the police chief and the district attorney,” Huntzinger said. “Thank goodness we still have an opportunity for a jury trial on these matters.”

Earlier this year, concerned with keeping the “public trust,” Police Chief William McManus transferred four supervisors from a night shift on the South Side in response to the arrests of the officers, each of whom was also assigned to that shift.

McManus said the transfers of their supervisors -- one lieutenant and three sergeants -- sprang from concerns about their leadership abilities.