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'Less than truthful' detective won't get his SAPD job back, ruling says

Daniel Schmitt was fired in Feb. 2016 for lying about truck inspections

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SAN ANTONIO – Two and a half years after he lost his job as a San Antonio police detective for lying about accepting payments from a trucking company to give its big rigs passing inspections, the former officer learned he won't get his job back.

An arbitration ruling issued Aug. 10 said testimony and evidence in six of the eight charges "clearly establishes that Det. Daniel Schmitt was less than truthful in his responses to the charges."

The San Antonio Police Department fired Schmitt in February 2016. Police Chief William McManus listed eight violations of a department policy called "truthfulness of members."

The allegations stem from an investigation first started by the Department of Public Safety who noted some questionable inspections by Schmitt of trucks belonging to Texas Chrome Transportation. Among the issues mentioned in an arbitration ruling obtained by The Defenders, were discrepancies that led the DPS to invalidate TCT inspections.

Police have said TCT paid Schmitt to pass its trucks in inspections to boost the company's safety profile. 

Schmitt was hired by SAPD in 2001. While assigned to the Traffic Division, he obtained a certification from the Department of Transportation to inspect commercial trucks while on duty. 

During the investigation by SAPD, Schmitt said he was paid to conduct mock inspections and safety consultations for TCT when he was off-duty starting around June 2013.

"(Schmitt) would educate the drivers about their logs and what he looked for on a roadside inspection. TCT would also randomly bring in truckers so that Schmitt could conduct mock inspections on them," the document said.

Schmitt insisted he was not paid to do official inspections, which he had to stop doing by February 2014.

"I got paid by them starting in August 2014, after they had a really bad summer," Schmitt told police. 

However, police noted inspections of TCT trucks as far back as July 2013, with bank deposits of up to $1,750 made the day after.

Schmitt also was accused of paying another officer, Johnny Diaz, to do the inspections to "manipulate safety scores." Diaz resigned from SAPD and was later charged and convicted for bribery. He received probation.

By July 2015, DPS and SAPD were taking a look at those inspections. Two months later, in an interview with a police detective, Schmitt first learned of the official allegations of untruthfulness he faced:

  • When he denied accepting rewards to conduct official DOT documented inspections in the performance of his duty.
  • When he claimed all fees and payments paid to or through him from Texas Chrome Transport (TCT) were for only consulting, training and/or mock inspections.
  • When he stated the location certain DOT inspections had supposedly taken place.
  • When he claimed drivers of trucks he inspected were present for certain DOT inspections he conducted.
  • When he stated the number of inspections he supposedly performed for TCT.
  • When he stated his reason for conducting TCT inspections was to maintain his certification.
  • When he gave untruthful reasons why the e-signatures were not obtained on certain inspections.
  • When he denied circumventing Official Roadside Inspection Procedures.
  • "Schmitt's views of truth are squishy at best, and frightening when you consider he is a San Antonio Police Detective," a brief filed by the city said. "Of the eight lies for which Schmitt was cited, there is some evidence for each, and ample evidence of the most egregious. In many cases, Schmitt himself agrees the statements are at a minimum untrue. Those statements should not be disregarded because Schmitt recants in the face of clear and convincing evidence. Such statements include, not working while doing inspections in 2013, the number of inspections in 2013, the number of inspections done at TCT, the timeline of when inspections were done, and the fact that rules were not circumvented. Schmitt was sure of himself when he made these statements. he was given every opportunity by (SAPD) Det. Nunez to clarify his statements and he stuck to the lie."

    An attorney for Schmitt repeatedly answered to most of the allegations by saying "no competent evidence was introduced to prove Schmitt was being untruthful." Schmitt's attorney also said the department "failed to properly investigate this matter. They willfully ignored the evidence and mitigating factors which were present."

    CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARBITRATION RULING

    "Chief McManus failed to take into consideration Detective Schmitt's good work history. There was no indication in the letter of suspension or in the testimony provided by the chief that he ever considered Schmitt's 15 plus year of exemplary work history when issuing the indefinite suspension. During the nearly 16 years since he graduated from the Police Academy, Detective Schmitt had not received any discipline," Schmitt's attorney wrote.

    Two of the allegations were not upheld. The arbitrator issued an "insufficient" finding on the issue of when Schmitt stated the location certain DOT inspections had supposedly taken place. As for the issue of when Schmitt stated his reason for conducting TCT inspections was to maintain his certification, the arbitrator ruled that allegation was "not sustained."

    "Of the sustained charges, the most egregious examples of his untruthfulness were his responses including not working while performing inspections in 2013, the number of inspections done at TCT, and that rules were not circumvented," the ruling said. "The cornerstone of any sworn police officer is that such officer is to be truthful at all times. That didn't happen here, and as such, there is no alternative but to uphold the indefinite suspension of an officer such as Det. Daniel Schmitt who betrays the trust of both the department and the general public, for whom he is trusted to serve."

    Schmitt was arrested on bribery charges. An indictment against him was later dismissed.