San Antonio cop fired for feeding fecal sandwich to homeless person
An officer from the San Antonio Police Department has been fired for allegedly attempting to feed a fecal sandwich to a homeless person, several sources have confirmed.
The City Council was briefed on the matter during a private session Thursday, sources said. The officer reportedly placed fecal matter between two pieces of bread and gave it to a homeless person.
“This was a vile and disgusting act that violates our guiding principles of ‘treating all with integrity, compassion, fairness and respect,’ Chief William McManus said in a prepared statement. “The fact that his fellow officers were so disgusted with his actions that they reported him to Internal Affairs demonstrates that this type of behavior will never be tolerated. The action of this one former officer in no way reflects the actions of all the other good men and women who respectfully serve this community.”
The alleged incident occurred in May, when Officer Matthew Luckhurst, a five-year veteran of the department, bragged to a fellow officer that “he had picked up some feces, placed it in a slice of bread, and put it in a Styrofoam container next to the unknown homeless male,” according to a press release from the chief’s office. “The officer reported that he told Luckhurst to go back and throw it away. The officer said he saw Luckhurst go back and he assumed that Luckhurst discarded the container.”
The incident was reported to Internal Affairs in July. Police Department officials have been unable to locate the homeless man.
“Firing this officer was the right thing to do,” Mayor Ivy Taylor said in a statement to the San Antonio Express-News. “His actions were a betrayal of every value we have in our community, and he is not representative of our great police force.”
McManus and two boards comprising citizens and police officers have all agreed on indefinite suspension for the officer, who plans to appeal the decision.
For the past year, or so, Luckhurst has been on SAPD’s downtown bike-patrol unit.
Reached by telephone, Luckhurst declined to comment, saying that his lawyer advised him not to speak to reporters.
Ben Sifuentes, Luckhurst’s attorney, said that his client joked about giving an excrement sandwich to a homeless person but never actually did so. The “joke” spiraled out of control, he said, and has turned is client into the subject of unfair persecution, Sifuentes said.
“It didn’t happen,” Sifuentes said. There are no eyewitnesses or video recordings and no statement from the homeless person, the lawyer said.
“I’m confident that in arbitration, we will prevail,” said Sifuentes, who has previously represented SAPD officers facing discipline and termination.
The council was apparently briefed Thursday on the issue because of speculation that the Express-News was working on a story about the incident. On Oct. 13, metro columnist Gilbert Garcia filed a request for information under the Texas Public Information Act, seeking “all documents related to pending termination cases involving San Antonio police officers and a member (or members) of the San Antonio homeless community.” But as of Friday, he had not received any responsive documents.
Several council members reacted Friday with outrage over the incident, standing behind McManus’s decision to terminate the office.
Councilman Joe Krier called the act “reprehensible.”
“We have very few bad apples in a barrel full of outstanding police and fire,” Krier said. “But it’s our job to get the bad apples out of the barrel as quickly as possible when they do bad things.”
Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, who represents the area around Haven for Hope — a massive center that provides services for the city’s homeless community — said the officer’s action was “just horrible.”
“I think it’s horrible that people would prey on very vulnerable populations,” she said. “It really is just so disappointing that one of our officers would prey on vulnerable populations. We are always working on behalf of those homeless people and Haven for Hope is still a place to go for any homeless person who needs resources.”
Councilman Cris Medina said the actions were “simply appalling.”
“That is not the way we treat human beings, and I was really disappointed,” Medina said. “I know the officer recognizes he made a terrible mistake and I know he’s got to atone for his mistake.”
Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association, said the officer does not receive union representation after being terminated.
“He’s on his own right now,” Helle said of Luckhurst. “It’s his conduct and behavior he had to answer for. The chief took the necessary action he thought he had to take.”