SAPD lieutenant fired for 'homophobic' Facebook post directed at Chief McManus

Lt. Lee Rakun claimed post was protected by First Amendment

Photo does not have a caption

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio Police Department lieutenant was fired last month after an internal affairs investigation determined that he directed a derogatory Facebook post at Chief William McManus.

In late December, on his Facebook page, Lt. Lee Rakun posted a screenshot of McManus and used a homophobic slur to describe the gym shorts worn by the chief as he conducted a media briefing at Public Safety Headquarters.

McManus' full body was accidentally shown on a Facebook livestream as the Police Department booked a suspect in the capital murder of 3-year-old Rene Blancas Jr., who was shot and killed in November while riding in his family's vehicle.

"You can't criticize the department or the administration or the direction the department's going and, certainly, you can't make homophobic remarks," McManus said during an interview this week.

Audio of two interviews in April between Rakun and the Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit was released to the KSAT 12 Defenders along with Rakun's discipline paperwork, following an open records request.

Click here to view a full list of public safety officer suspensions from November 2013 to present.

Rakun told investigators that he had immediately taken down the post.

A screenshot of the post included in Rakun's paperwork, however, shows that it was up for at least 45 minutes.

"When you're a public figure and you're in this profession, you have to expect that things are maybe going to be said about you that you didn't like," Rakun told Internal Affairs. "Well, I do believe it's inappropriate for our commanding officer and leader of this department, such a major department, to be wearing in public that kind of stuff."

McManus said he made the decision to show up for the escort by police officers of the suspect after speaking on the phone with Blancas' father.

The chief was dressed in his uniform top and gym shorts because, two weeks earlier, he had undergone total knee replacement surgery.

"I felt it important enough to be in front of the camera for that important arrest," McManus said.

Rakun, who conferred with his attorney multiple times during the Internal Affairs interviews, said the post was protected by the First Amendment and was in line with what he's witnessed from other Police Department personnel.

"It does not imply anything homosexual," said Rakun, who also argued that the department waited more than 180 days to bring allegations against him.

Records, however, show the Internal Affairs case was opened well inside the 180-day requirement.

"It has nothing to do with taking a shot at me. It was the content of the post," McManus said.

The chief handed Rakun a second indefinite suspension last month for rules violations related to using his personally owned vehicle.

A separate Internal Affairs investigation concluded that, on at least seven occasions in December, Rakun, while on duty, left his substation in his personally owned vehicle and did not return prior to the end of his shift.

The investigation found that Rakun was disrespectful toward a captain and refused to obey an order to explain why he was not returning before the end of his shift.

Rakun is appealing both indefinite suspensions, according to his personnel paperwork.

Rakun's attorney, Ben Sifuentes Jr., declined to make his client available for an interview.

McManus filed a complaint against Sifuentes with the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel for the State Bar of Texas following Rakun's disciplinary hearing in early June.

McManus said Sifuentes opened the hearing by threatening to take legal action against the chief if he took "certain action" against Rakun related to the investigation.

"I took exception to it, and the attorneys in the room for the city took exception to it, and a complaint was filed with the bar association," McManus said.

This week, Sifuentes said that he did nothing wrong.

A spokeswoman for the state bar said via email that she could not discuss the complaint because disciplinary information remains confidential unless it results in a public sanction.

The two indefinite suspensions are at least the 16th and 17th suspensions handed to Rakun during his troubled 25-year career with the Police Department, according to previous media reports.

A San Antonio Express News article in 2012 stated that Rakun was previously fired for directing racial slurs toward a security guard outside a Northeast Side bar and restaurant.

As was the case with a previous indefinite suspension, Rakun was able to win back his job through arbitration.

"There's a history there and certainly, as you said, there's a long disciplinary record," McManus said.

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.