Child porn, bribery cases against ex-SAPD officer in peril after warrants tossed out

Judge Velia Meza cites litany of procedural issues by SAPD detective who obtained January 2021 search warrants

Evidence from search warrants in cases against ex-SAPD officer Erik Rodriguez have been tossed out.

SAN ANTONIO – Search warrants in multiple felony cases against a former San Antonio police officer were tossed out Friday after a state district judge ruled the evidence was obtained improperly, court records show.

Judge Velia Meza ruled that evidence from warrants in 2021 child pornography and bribery cases against Erik Rodriguez must be suppressed, meaning that evidence cannot be used by prosecutors moving forward.

The order concludes a more than year-long attempt by attorneys for Rodriguez to get the evidence thrown out.

Meza, in her 30-page ruling, listed a litany of mistakes made by the San Antonio Police Department detective who wrote the affidavits for the warrants and then got judges to sign them.

Rodriguez, a 14-year veteran of SAPD, was first arrested in January 2021 after being accused of giving a suspect in a domestic violence case information in exchange for money.

SAPD officials announced Rodriguez’s arrest as they were investigating him for much more serious offenses, court records reveal.

That same month Rodriguez was indicted by a Bexar County grand jury for misuse of public information, bribery and child pornography.

Rodriguez was allegedly in possession of a video that showed an underage child engaged in sexual bestiality, officials with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office previously said.

Prosecutors first raised issues last year with how the warrants were obtained and then again during a hearing in June.

The SAPD detective assigned to the case, Aisha Jackson, admitted during the June hearing that she had “omitted a lot of information from the first warrant affidavit,” Meza’s order states.

“Detective Jackson believed that she had authority under the first warrant to seize the phone. However, she knew that the warrant she had to seize the phone would not authorize a search of the phone because it was not signed by a District Court Judge,” the order states.

The affidavit and search warrant were instead signed by a magistrate judge, records show.

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure requires that a warrant to search the contents of a person’s phone be issued by a district court judge in the judicial district where the phone is located.

“Although the court finds Detective Jackson to be a truthful and credible witness, her affidavit did not contain sufficient facts to support probable cause for the first warrant,” wrote Meza, who referred to SAPD taking Rodriguez’s cellphone as a “warrantless seizure.”

Evidence from a second warrant obtained by SAPD a day after the first warrant was issued can also not be used in court, since it “came from the fruits of the first warrant,” Meza’s order states.

“I think the judge followed the law and the facts as they came out,” said Jaime Cavazos, Rodriguez’s criminal defense attorney.

Cavazos was sharply critical of SAPD, stating that its detectives need retraining on requesting cellphone search warrants and should learn that they cannot approach them as general search warrants.

Cavazos said SAPD is violating the constitutional rights of people they are investigating.

SAPD officials on Monday did not respond to an email seeking comment.

A spokesperson for Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said via email the office could not comment on pending cases.

It is possible prosecutors could appeal Meza’s ruling.

Prosecutors previously dismissed a lesser charge of misuse of public information against Rodriguez in late June.

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About the Authors:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast South Texas Crime Stories.