WATCH: Sheriff's office supervisors interfere with DWI stop of fellow deputy

Corporal resigns, two sergeants suspended following 2018 drunk driving incident

By Dillon Collier - Investigative Reporter, Josh Saunders - Photojournalist, Adrian Garcia - Digital Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - Two supervisors with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office interfered with the DWI stop of a fellow supervisor last year, according to video obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders.

Sergeants Jerime Phoenix and Steven Calva were each suspended two days and ordered to go through remedial supervisor training following the September 2018 incident in the 8300 block of Interstate 10 West.

A third deputy seen in dash camera and body-worn camera video released by the San Antonio Police Department was not disciplined, BCSO officials said.

READ MORE: Sheriff Salazar email to deputies: DWI issue 'again reared its ugly head'

The footage, obtained by the Defenders through an open records request, shows several tense moments as an SAPD officer attempted to conduct a field sobriety test on BCSO Corporal Kailin Kruger. 

Kruger had been pulled over at 2:20 a.m. after turning onto the I-10 access road without her vehicle's headlights on.

A dark-colored SUV driving behind Kruger's vehicle twice blocked an SAPD cruiser attempting to pull in behind her, the footage shows.

After drifting between two lanes of traffic and then attempting to stop on the access road, Kruger finally pulled into a dimly lit Northwest Side parking lot.

MORE FROM THE DEFENDERS: Bexar County Sheriff's deputy arrested overnight on DWI charge

After Kruger informed the SAPD officer that she worked for BCSO, a group of men walked up from behind the officer's parked cruiser.

"Why do we have all these guys showing up?" asked SAPD Officer Chad Bendele.

The body-worn camera of a second SAPD officer at the scene shows an approaching off-duty deputy ignore five commands to back up before he finally complied.

"Your boys are about to get in trouble. You ever hear of interference? That's what they are about to get," Bendele said to Kruger.

"No. Don't. Go, go, go, go, go. Seriously go, go," Kruger yelled as the deputies approached.

The off-duty corporal then proceeded to perform poorly on the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, walk and turn test and the one-leg stand test.

"Tonight you are going to go with me. You understand that? Kailin, you drank way too much tonight," said Bendele as he arrested Kruger. 

MORE: 'This is the worst it's ever been': Frustration grows among Bexar County Jail deputies

"You gotta let it play out the way it plays out."

A man who identified himself as a BCSO deputy is seen on body-worn camera footage standing next to the dark-colored SUV and telling an SAPD officer that he just wanted to make sure Kruger got home safely.

"A little too late for that, huh?" the officer responded, as Kruger's field sobriety test played out less than 100 feet away. 

"I'm trying to make sure she don't get in no trouble," said the deputy.

"Well, we're here now. You gotta let it play out the way it plays out," said the officer.

Bendele, after placing Kruger in custody, admonished the three deputies for their behavior.

"The things you did a minute ago, whoever it was. You hear of interference? You can go to jail. Never stop on a traffic stop," said Bendele. "Never stop. It's pretty simple. It puts me in a bad spot tonight. You've got to make better decisions."

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"If you're a supervisor, you're a supervisor 24 hours a day."

Sheriff Javier Salazar said this week this type of behavior cannot be tolerated.

"If you're a supervisor, you're a supervisor 24 hours a day," said Salazar, who questioned why the sergeants allowed Kruger to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

"Don't just stand by idly while somebody's doing the wrong thing and going off and driving drunk," said Salazar.

When asked why it was so inappropriate for the off-duty deputies to approach the SAPD officer as he attempted to conduct a field sobriety test, Salazar said, "'Who are these people and why are they watching?' He has no way of knowing if they are connected to this driver in some way, shape or form. 'Are they lost? Do they mean me harm?'" said Salazar.

History of preferential treatment

Kruger's DWI arrest actually brought an end to the BCSO practice of allowing its deputies to be escorted out of the back of the Central Magistrate Office and away from the view of the public.

Hours after her arrest, she was allowed to exit the booking facility through an area that could not be accessed by the public.

The day of the incident, a BCSO spokesman released the following statement:

After this incident was brought to our attention by your station, we addressed BCSO staff working at the magistrates office there will be no deviation from practices on escorting released prisoners from the Central Magistrates Office.

Court records show Kruger pleaded guilty to DWI on July 16.

She then resigned her position with BCSO two days later.

An agency spokesman said Kruger was given a dishonorable discharge, since she resigned while under investigation. This designation will make it difficult for her to be hired by another law enforcement agency.

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