SAN ANTONIO – It isn't just the sex on duty that is keeping two former San Antonio police officers from returning to the department, but also the other mistakes the pair made as a result of their relationship, records recently obtained by The Defenders show.
Officers Eman Fondren and Rebecca Martinez were fired from the San Antonio Police Department in April 2016. The couple were involved in a sexual relationship that was discovered by Fondren's then-wife, who reported explicit text messages between Fondren and Martinez that detailed their on-duty sexual activities and efforts they made to conceal it from Martinez's ex-boyfriend (who is also a police officer).
Police said Fondren didn't deny the text exchanges, but said "they were actually text discussions of previous sexual encounters that took place off-duty."
Fondren was accused of disabling his patrol unit's GPS during meetups with Martinez, speeding to a call for which his service was canceled and failing to activate his in-car camera (COBAN) en route to a call for service.
"(Fondren) admitted that on the dates alleged in the charges, (he) disabled his vehicle's GPS to conceal his location and he did so to conceal his rendezvouses with (Martinez) during his (there) work shift(s)," the city said.
The city said Fondren did not deny failing to turn on the patrol car's camera, but said "he had received verbal instructions from supervisors at the East subdivision that officers did not have to turn on the COBAN until near the scene of the call location," a claim the city said was "refuted by management rebuttal testimony."
However, Fondren's attorney said "supporting witnesses testified that the written rules had been modified by oral instructions from East Subdivision supervisors, who said officers did not have to turn on the COBAN until they were near the scene of the call location."
While Fondren's attorney said his client "did not lie at any time during the (SAPD Internal Affairs) investigation," he also argued "(Fondren) cannot be punished for his off-duty personal or sexual conduct" and that "the text messages were merely fantasies and were not admissions of engaging in sexual conduct on-duty."
The arbitrator disagreed with Fondren's arguments, noting Fondren did not challenge the contents of the text messages.
"Notwithstanding his repeated denials that they had sex while on duty, (Fondren) admitted another reader of the texts could reasonably conclude they had engaged in sexual conduct while on duty: "I believe it would be perceived as us having sexual encounters while on duty." Thus, it is not unreasonable for third party readers of the texts, such as the IA investigator, (Citizen Advisory Action Board) members (both police officers and citizens) and ultimately the police chief to conclude that said conduct had occurred," the arbitrator wrote.
As for the disabling of the GPS, the arbitrator said "one can reasonably conclude there was a nefarious motive for disabling the GPS." Fondren's failure to turn on the in-car camera was also called into question.
"If turned on, the COBAN recording would have revealed (Fondren's) location at the start of the call and thus, his location would be revealed. Being forgetful about turning on the COBAN would be totally consistent with disabling the GPS -- to avoid detection," the arbitrator said. "Sexual activities of individuals generally occur in private. Direct proof of such activity is difficult to acquire. However, with the admission of the text messages into evidence and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, plus the additional rules violations engaged in to conceal these activities while on duty, the preponderance of evidence established a number of the rules violations."
The only mention of Martinez's relationship with Fondren in the reasons for her termination are a result of Fondren's then-wife being arrested for an alleged assault on Martinez. Martinez used her personal cellphone to photograph the woman, which the city described as "taunting." Martinez told police she "only pretended to take photographs of (the woman) but did not actually do so...out of anger and frustration."
"(Chief William McManus) said that this was the only case he can recall of a SAPD officer abusing her/his authority to taunt a prisoner," the city said.
Martinez was also accused of using her patrol vehicle's laptop computer to look up the criminal history of the woman, which the city called an abuse of city equipment.
"(Fondren's then-wife) had every reason to distort what happened in order to take revenge against (Fondren's) new girlfriend," Martinez's attorney said. "The jail's video recording shows (the woman) engaging in conversations with her cellmates and apparently at ease when Officer Martinez passed by her cell. She did not report this incident for several weeks and never sought a 'Do Not Contact' order. Her complaint was merely a pretext for retaliation against the person she held responsible for breaking up her (redacted) and getting her arrested, and her characterizations of (Martinez's) conduct as emotionally abusive should be discredited."
The arbitrator said whether a photo was taken was irrelevant, but that the act of even pretending to take a photo "demonstrates intentional intimidation and humiliation of a civilian in custody of the SAPD by an on-duty, uniformed officer. Sitting in a jail cell is, in itself, sufficiently humiliating without having your romantic rival parade around taking your picture. It had to be even worse when the rival was the apparent winner."
The arbitrator said it appeared Martinez's actions were done "at minimum, to appease (Martinez's) own ego." The ruling also said if "(Martinez) could not control her actions, she should not have been on duty. This was neither a 'heat of the moment' event, in that it was calculated, nor was this merely a 'minor' violation."
The criminal case against Fondren's then-wife was dismissed.
Fondren had been with the department for two and a half years, Martinez for a little more than four years.