The Field Review - Local

Universal City Releases 2022 Police Discipline Records

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Universal City Releases 2022 Police Discipline Records

Universal City, a suburb of San Antonio in Bexar County, has issued four disciplinary actions during the 2022 calendar year. The police department is not a civil service protected agency. This means that all discipline taken against officers is subject to release under the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA). The purpose of this law is to ensure transparency and access to public information. Under the TPIA, citizens and the media have the right to request and obtain records related to police officer discipline.

Access to this information helps ensure accountability and promotes trust in the justice system. Moreover, the disclosure of these disciplinary actions can serve as a precedent and guideline for future decisions and policies in the Universal City Police Department. Transparency and accountability are fundamental aspects of a reliable and effective justice system. Therefore, it is important to comply with the provisions of the TPIA and keep the public informed about the progress and actions taken regarding officer discipline.

Universal City Officer Terminated Over COVID-19

Officer Nancy Vela was terminated on January 4, 2022, for insubordination. Chief Johnny Siemens identified, through Lieutenant Kinney’s findings, that Vela had been insubordinate. It was noted on December 31, 2021, that Vela wasn’t feeling well and reported it to Sergeant Rios. Vela and her Field Training Officer, Rosales, both tested positive for COVID-19. The city had a policy at that time that any positive COVID-19 cases were to be quarantined for at least five days.

Vela was receiving full pay and benefits during the duration of time she was to be quarantined. However, on January 2, 2022, Sergeant Bortel alerted Lieutenant Kinney that Vela had posted a picture on her social media of herself and a friend. The photo, according to the report released, indicated that Vela may have been celebrating the New Year with a friend, as they both raised a drink above their heads in the photo. The photo was taken just after midnight on December 31, 2021. The photo showed Vela in a public place and not wearing a protective mask.

On January 3, 2022, Lieutenant Kinney texted Vela to check on her status. Vela stated she felt fine and was ready to return to work. Lieutenant Kinney communicated to Vela that there was a rumor that she went out on New Year’s. Vela admitted she attended an outdoor family gathering on New Year’s Eve. She claimed she wore a mask, except in the picture posted on social media. She further claimed she thought the isolation period was only three days.

Lieutenant Kinney states in his report to Chief Siemens the belief Vela was not honest and forthcoming with her answers surrounding her actions related to the COVID-19 quarantine.

Vela was terminated by Chief Siemens.

Universal City Officer Suspended for Filing an Inaccurate Incident Report

Lieutenant Kinney informed Chief Siemens that Officer Luevano intentionally submitted an inaccurate incident report, which omitted key details relevant to the case. Lieutenant Kinney goes on to state that Luevano’s actions were acts of “blatant incompetence.” Luevano admitted his fault and is quoted as saying “he didn’t want to deal with it,” or words to that effect. Luevano is a senior officer with years of experience, as indicated by the disciplinary record.

Luevano was given a five day suspension on or about June 29, 2022.

Universal City Officer Reprimanded for Excessive Force

On February 19, 2022, at around 9:25 PM, Officer Logan Lee responded as a cover officer to the address 213 Pat Booker Rd. for a report of a man wielding a knife. The call was logged under UCPD Case #22-3942. Upon arrival, Lee immediately gave verbal instructions to the suspect to exit his vehicle. Despite attempts at verbal de-escalation, Officer Parra had to deploy pepper spray to disorient the man and facilitate his removal from the vehicle. Once the suspect was out of the vehicle, other officers on the scene attempted to physically restrain him.

While the suspect was not actively fighting the four officers, he did resist by pushing them away. In response, Lee made the decision to deploy his X26P Taser to subdue the suspect. Lee completed one full cycle of the Taser for five seconds, but he observed that the suspect was still resisting. As a result, he administered a second full cycle for another five seconds, followed by a shorter third cycle of approximately 1 to 2 seconds. Once the suspect was successfully restrained, Lee holstered his Taser.

After watching the video, it was found that using the taser twice more was not needed. Lee was reprimanded on or about March 8, 2022.

Universal City Officer Reprimanded for Vehicle Damage

On December 26, 2021 at 4:46 a.m., Officer McNeel was responding to an urgent request for medical assistance. The weather conditions were characterized by dense fog and mist, leading to limited visibility on the road. Despite the hazardous conditions, Officer McNeel was exceeding the speed limit on Pat Booker Rd by 15 MPH (55 MPH in a 40 MPH zone), without activating his emergency lights. This reckless speed jeopardized the safety of other motorists and resulted in a collision, causing significant damage amounting to $1500.00 to his assigned patrol vehicle.

Lee was issued a reprimand on or about January 4, 2022.

A Couple of Our Other Reads

You may be interested in our publishing on discipline issued by VIA Transit Police.

Or you may find our publishing on the San Antonio Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector Generals’ inspection, of interest.

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