The San Antonio Police Department keeps a unique database that documents every police chase by SAPD officers. I’m working on a story that will be published Sunday that’s based on an analysis of the data. We’re examining the challenges and risks police officers face when they try to catch a suspect in a high-speed chase.
If you’re an SAPD officer or someone who’s been involved in an accident related to a police chase, feel free to contact me.
Earlier this month, Express-News reporter Brian Chasnoff learned the San Antonio Police Department was investigating one of its own, officer Gabriel Villarreal, after a woman complained about the officer’s behavior. The woman worked at the Art of Shaving boutique at the Shops at La Cantera. She met Villarreal and his family and sold him $400 in shaving supplies. A day later, Villarreal showed up at her apartment — in uniform — claiming he was checking up on a 911 call from her home:
“He just looked around and said, ‘Well, maybe your husband called,’” she said.
She told him she was not married and no one could have called 911. The officer responded that sometimes fog can set off the 911 system, the woman said.
“I think he asked to come in,” she said. “He came into my house. I let him in to see there was no emergency.”
The officer then pointed out that the woman had sold him shaving supplies the previous day.
“I said, ‘What a coincidence! You’re here!’” she said. “I didn’t get it.”
Small talk ensued.
“He wouldn’t leave, and he wouldn’t leave,” she said. “It kind of felt weird in my home.”
The officer left after about 20 minutes. A friend later urged her to report the incident.
Last week, Villarreal was indefinately suspended, which is tantamount to being fired. In such cases, an officer’s disciplinary records become public. Brian obtained the SAPD documents, which detailed a disturbing pattern of Villarreal using police equipment to look up personal data and joke about at least seven women:
The violations involve at least seven women and occurred through October, November and December 2009, according to the city’s findings, which allege the following:
For “personal” reasons, Villarreal researched the criminal history of an apartment manager in his patrol district. In conversations via car terminals, Villarreal and another officer referred to the woman by “nicknames for her breasts.”
Villarreal and another officer also held an “extended” electronic conversation about two other women in which “a comment is passed back and forth about whether (Villarreal) ‘knocked’ or ‘knocked it out,’ referring to sex.”
A few days later, Villarreal ran the registration of a Mercedes-Benz owned by another woman and sent it to a fellow officer. The pair then discussed her “personal physical attributes, her breasts and her attractiveness.”
From the registration information, Villarreal then pulled more of that woman’s personal data, including calls for police service to her home address, her social security number and her municipal court files.
The investigation showed that Villarreal was on duty when he knocked on the door of the woman from the Art of Shaving. He had been dispatched to an assist-the-public call, handled it quickly, then drove to the woman’s house without notifying dispatchers.
At some point Villarreal’s wife learned what the police investigation found — she returned the $400 in shaving supplies.