SAN ANTONIO – A Bexar County sheriff's deputy has filed a complaint alleging one of his supervisors created an intimidating and hostile work environment.
The deputy claimed in a report filed in December that he found an offensive image on his work computer after returning from time off.
Sheriff's Office spokesman James Keith said Thursday an internal investigation was launched when one of the agency's investigators wrote a report about images he found on his county issued laptop on Dec. 8, 2015, but said the investigation was standard procedure.
"Every employee at the BCSO has a right to file a complaint whenever they feel like they have been done wrong," Keith said. "Just because an internal affairs investigation is launched does not mean that someone is guilty of the accusations being posed against them."
The investigator wrote in the report obtained by KSAT 12 News that he found an image of three KKK members in a folder on his computer that appeared to be placed there by a high-ranking supervisor in his chain of command.
The investigator wrote, "I found this photograph very disturbing to me. I have a hard time believing that one of the second-highest ranking BCSO supervisors of this agency employed as a public servant would have a reason to display this photograph."
He called the photograph "insulting" and "offensive" and believes it has "disrupted office moral" and created a "hostile and intimidating work environment."
Since filing the report, the investigator has been demoted to a patrol deputy.
"To say that this complaint has anything to do with his demotion couldn't be further from the truth," Keith said. "This employee was demoted. This investigation has nothing to do with that."
Keith said the deputy was demoted for poor job performance and disciplinary issues and suggested the report may have been filed in retaliation.
"Unfortunately, we have seen in the past where an employee knows that they're in trouble and so they will make allegations sometimes in retaliation," Keith said. "I don't know if that's the case here but it is certainly a possibility."
Keith said because of the supervisor's position, it would not be unusual for him to have an image depicting the KKK on his hard drive that could be accessed by others.
"We should be concerned if this supervisor has this photo as a screen saver, as something he is photographed in, but right now it appears as though it is a photo that was collected as part of his job duties," Keith said. "He's responsible for undercover operations, surveillance, for tracking down people who do wrong, and it would not be abnormal for him to have photos of groups who may be associated with wrongdoing."
Sources said the deputy who wrote the report has also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A spokesman for the EEOC said complaints filed against employers are confidential and the agency could neither confirm or deny if it was investigating the deputy's complaint.
Keith said the report obtained by KSAT 12 News is not something that would be available to the public and whoever leaked the document could face criminal charges. He said the complaint will be fully investigated.
"We take all complaints seriously and we are committed to thoroughly investigating it," Keith said. "We want to make sure all of our employees are doing what they're supposed to do an that's what we're going to be doing in this case."