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Mayor Taylor releases video statement on SAPD issues

Taylor: 'Now is the time to turn to solutions'

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor on Thursday released a video statement regarding recent issues related to the San Antonio Police Department.

Here is a transcript of the video: 

Hello neighbors, citizens and friends.

I am your San Antonio mayor, Ivy Taylor, and I am coming to you through this video to address a critical community issue. 

I wanted to have the opportunity to share my thoughts on recent developments related to our San Antonio Police Department.

Earlier this week, our police chief, William McManus, rendered his decision regarding discipline in the case of Officer John Lee who shot and killed an unarmed man Antronie Scott. After careful review of all the facts of the case, some of which have not been highlighted through various media outlets, Chief McManus decided that firing Officer Lee was not appropriate given that the responsibility for the unfortunate outcome was shared by Officer Lee and the two detectives on scene. In fact, the chief has made determinations on disciplinary action for the detectives who coordinated the operation as well as their supervisors, who were involved in the specific incident.

While I am still deeply concerned about the case, I respect the chief's willingness to do what he deems is right and not just what is politically expedient. The District Attorney's office is continuing their examination of the facts here, and the city leadership has no authority over that process. However, should Officer Lee be indicted, then SAPD would take immediate and appropriate action.

That being said, please know that I have not lost sight of the core issue here. There was indeed a senseless loss of a man's life and there is no way to ever make that right. I ask for your prayers for the Scott family as they deal with their loss.

Let me also acknowledge that I most certainly understand the lens through which many citizens view this officer-involved shooting. For the last few years, seeing images on the nightly news of black and minority men being killed by police officers has become almost routine.

When it hits close to home, it is indeed frightening. But every incident, every case, has its unique circumstances. Video footage was available in many of those instances, but not the Scott case, which makes it all the more important to take a deliberate and cautious approach. 

Every city or town also has its own context. I will not allow our city's story to be that of the cities we see on the national news. We will write our own story here in San Antonio. 

Now is the time to turn to solutions. And as angry as community members may be, and as uncomfortable and disconcerted as SAPD officers may be with changing times and expectations, firing a highly competent and respected police chief is not the solution, as it only serves to divide us at a time when we need to come together now more than ever. Politicizing this incident and putting it in the context of what is happening in other cities is not the solution.  Just as reverting to 20th century police techniques or protesting the very meetings that seek to provide the opportunity for constructive dialogue is not the solution.

We want to minimize the chances of this kind of incident ever happening again in our city. The solutions lie with many of the changes and reforms that are already underway. Your city leadership has already decided to invest in body cameras to increase accountability. Reforms in training at the academy and for officers are already underway. Examining racial bias tendencies should be part of the new training methods. I am asking the city manager and police chief to determine how we can expand our community policing efforts. 

At a community meeting a few weeks ago, a young man stated what we have all known -- when officers get to know residents, when they walk the streets, when they know families, we get better relationships and better outcomes.

I won't spend time debating the existence of racism and its causes. Obviously, as an African American, I have strong views on that. However, grandstanding to score political points is not my style. I can't tell everyone what they want to hear. But I can tell you this -- my goal is to restore and ensure that our San Antonio community trusts the officers who work to keep them safe and to ensure that our SAPD have the tools and training to do their jobs effectively. We are one San Antonio and our fates are tied together. So let's get to work on the solutions.