Park police sergeant who avoided suspension after racist joke no longer with the department

Sgt. Mike Burns retired Oct. 7, city official confirms

Park Police Headquarters at Hemisfair Park.
Park Police Headquarters at Hemisfair Park. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio Park Police Department sergeant, who avoided being suspended after telling a racist joke while on duty, has left the department months after the KSAT 12 Defenders exposed the incident.

Sgt. Mike Burns retired Oct. 7, an official with the city’s Human Resources department confirms.

City and SAPD officials have not released any other information about his exodus.

His departure from the agency comes four months after the Defenders shed light on a 2019 internal affairs investigation of Burns, launched after he told an inappropriate joke to a fellow officer while at Travis Park.

San Antonio park police supervisor avoided suspension after racist joke about Black, Hispanic people

Burns responded to the downtown park in August 2019 after another officer broke up a disturbance between a Black man and a Hispanic man, records show.

Burns told the officer the incident reminded him of a joke, according to records.

Burns then asked, “Why can’t a Hispanic and a Black have an interracial marriage?”

After the other officer asked “why,” Burns concluded the joke by saying, “their babies/kids would be too lazy to steal,” internal affairs records show.

The officer, who stated he was not offended by the joke, later retold it to the African American sergeant because Burns informed him the sergeant had heard him tell it and the joke had his approval.

The sergeant confronted Burns over the incident, records show.

“I have never been and never will be okay with a joke like that,” the sergeant wrote in a statement provided to Park Police internal affairs.

Records show a second officer reported the incident to both Human Resources and internal affairs, and at one point asked via email why nothing was being done about the comments.

In November, Burns signed a written reprimand admitting that he showed poor judgment in sharing an inappropriate joke, records show.

Records about Burns' racist joke were provided to the Defenders earlier this year by a source who believed the information should be public.

SAPD officials in July, weeks after the story aired on television, provided the Defenders a copy of the written reprimand as part of a records release, despite not being required to by state law.

Rules set forth in the local government code only require discipline records to be released publicly if an incident results in removal, suspension, demotion or uncompensated duty.

Burns, a former SAPD deputy chief who served under current Chief William McManus, worked for SAPD from 1977 to 2011 before retiring and returning to its park police division in late 2014.

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