On Monday, a judge agreed with a 2011 arbitration case calling for the reinstatement of Joe Salvaggio, a San Antonio police lieutenant who was placed on indefinite suspension in July 2010 for allegations of improper conduct during a captain's exam.
"Until I sign the paperwork to go back to work, it's just another hurdle," said Salvaggio Tuesday evening. "I'm not at the finish line."
In January 2010, Salvaggio was taking an exam for a promotion to captain when he asked to leave the testing room for a restroom break. As he began to leave, he had a Post-it note in his hand that had been used to mark his desk assignment. A test proctor asked to see it and saw that it had test topics written on it.
Salvaggio said the proctor asked that he leave the post-it in the room and he did. The proctor later showed the note to a test administrator and, following an internal affairs investigation, Salvaggio was accused of attempting to remove test materials during the exam.
Despite a citizen advisory board recommending the charges be dismissed, police chief William McManus concluded that Salvaggio did commit a violation and suspended him indefinitely. An arbitrator ruled in March 2011 that the city "failed to establish a rule violation" which invalidated the investigation.
"I know I can look myself in the mirror every day knowing that I've done nothing wrong," said Salvaggio. "Their investigation revealed there were no changes on the test and there was nothing done to the test. It is a story of what they believed could have happened and might have occurred had the note gone out of the room."
Following the arbitrator's ruling, the city appealed, which was a first in the history of the police department according to Salvaggio, who placed fourth during the testing - meaning he would be a captain by now.
Once the judge files a written ruling, the city has 30 days to consider a motion to appeal. If Salvaggio is reinstated, he will received backpay for the entire suspension and could be promoted to captain.
"It's been a nightmare, it's something I thought could never happen to me," he said. "It's the exact reason I continue to fight today is because I want it to never happen to anyone else again."