Deputy constable ordered to respond to crash in personal vehicle

Precinct 2 captain who gave order disciplined after Nov. 8 incident

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County emergency radio records obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders confirm that a captain from the Precinct 2 Constable’s Office ordered a deputy constable in November to respond to a crash in his personal vehicle.

Two people were hospitalized following the Nov. 8 four-vehicle wreck in the intersection of Mainland Drive and Bandera Road, less than a mile from Precinct 2 headquarters.

The captain, identified by sources as Anthony Castillo, drove up on the wreck, then radioed for several other units to respond to help control traffic, according to county radio records.

"1231 make this location," Castillo is heard saying less than two minutes after calling in the crash.

The deputy assigned to the call sign 1231 responded, "I don't have a unit, sir, and there are none left here."

Castillo asked the deputy to repeat what he said, then asked if a sergeant was with him at headquarters.

After the deputy said no, Castillo told him, "Make your way over here."

Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela said the captain later sent the deputy away from the scene after realizing the deputy was in his POV, or personally owned vehicle.

"Captain's distracted with everything going on. 'Hurry up, we need help. We're worried about the lives of our constituents because they're going to get hurt on this road if we don't secure it,'" said Barrientes Vela last month.

Public records confirm that the San Antonio Police Department handled the crash investigation.

Barrientes Vela said last month that officers from other agencies were on scene as well.

"I did bring in the ranking officer. I had a discussion with him. I gave him a verbal write-up on it. Told him, 'Don't ever do that again,' basically, and we had a good discussion about what he did," said Barrientes Vela.

Although it was an unorthodox way to respond to a crash scene, county officials said it was acceptable as long as the deputy had a valid driver's license and liability insurance on his personal vehicle.

Barrientes Vela did not respond to a followup question asking whether the deputy had both a valid driver's license and liability insurance.

The constable, who answered questions about the Nov. 8 incident during a media availability related to security concerns at the county's Guilbeau Road complex, said a vehicle shortage played a factor in how the episode played out.

Barrientes Vela, who took office at the start of 2017, has repeatedly said publicly that the county's decision to cut six positions from her office has strained its ability to carry out its duties.

"We're short vehicles, we're short manpower," said Barrientes Vela.

From the Bexar County FY 2017-2018 Adopted Annual Budget for Precinct 2 Constable

A Bexar County spokeswoman said county vehicles continue to be assigned on a one-to-one ratio.

"So there is one vehicle for the constable, one vehicle for every deputy constable and then one vehicle for other employees in that office that need a vehicle," said Monica Ramos.

Ramos said that constables then have the authority to allocate those vehicles however they see fit.

"If you go over to juvenile center, you'll find all the vehicles they took from me are just parked, they are not being used," Barrientes Vela said last month.

The Defenders scoured the parking lots of the Bexar County Juvenile Detention Center and Bexar County Juvenile Probation and could not find any Precinct 2 vehicles parked there.

A Defenders investigation last April revealed that Castillo used a county vehicle, wore a Precinct 2 uniform and badge and carried a weapon before his official service start date.

Barrientes Vela responded in a written statement for that story that she was "being targeted by media" because of her "position of authority as the First Female Bexar County Constable in a male dominated Law Enforcement field."

Anthony Castillo TCOLE Personal Status Report - March 2017

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. He provides restaurant health reports for KSAT's "Behind the Kitchen Door." Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.