SAN ANTONIO – The president of the San Antonio Police Officers’ Association has called for the resignation of Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales, a day after a fifth SAPD officer was struck by gunfire while pursuing a wanted criminal.
Danny Diaz told KSAT Investigates in an interview Thursday that Gonzales “absolutely” should resign from office amid growing criticism of how the DA’s office prosecutes defendants.
“If the job that he was elected to do is not a job that he can do, he doesn’t belong there,” said Diaz, who said he has spent much of the past week shuttling between area hospitals and meeting with Chief William McManus about violence encountered by SAPD officers since late last week.
Jesse Garcia is accused of shooting three SAPD officers, critically injuring two of them, during a violent rampage last Thursday on the city’s Southwest and West Sides.
Garcia, at the time of his arrest, was wanted on multiple warrants and was still awaiting indictment for two offenses he had been arrested on nearly a year ago.
DA officials have not publicly addressed why Garcia was still awaiting indictment but said a “frustrating” bond system contributed to Garcia being free at the time of his arrest.
A Bexar County District Court judge on Wednesday ordered Garcia to be held without bond after revoking his bail in four previous criminal cases.
Hours later, a fourth San Antonio police officer was shot while trying to arrest 40-year-old Michael Kirkland.
Investigators said Kirkland fired at drivers and police officers on an East Side highway before being shot and killed.
At the time of his death, Kirkland was wanted on six warrants, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault of a peace officer, records obtained by KSAT Investigates show.
Gonzales acknowledged during a virtual press conference Wednesday evening that Kirkland had not officially been convicted of any of the last seven charges on his record after prosecutors ran into issues getting victims or witnesses to assist the DA’s office in prosecuting the cases.
“Hopefully with this latest incident, we’ll be able to go forward to prosecute and well, I take that back. My understanding is that individual is now deceased,” said Gonzales, who corrected himself.
“All we can do is continue to implore the public to cooperate, to continue to plead to victims of crime, to the witnesses that have witnessed these crimes to come forward,” said Gonzales.
Hours later, a fifth SAPD officer was struck by gunfire while officers chased an armed burglary suspect who had run from a stolen vehicle in the 600 block of SW Loop 410.
SAPD officials, as of Thursday evening, had not identified the injured officer or suspect and had not provided information on who fired the bullet that struck the officer.
Law enforcement sources told KSAT the suspect had been charged in at least five criminal cases since last August.
The cases ranged from burglary of vehicles to criminal mischief and felony drug possession.
All five SAPD officers shot within the past week are expected to survive their injuries.
Diaz has gone as far as to create his own spreadsheet of accused criminals, many of whom KSAT has covered, that he says have benefitted from Gonzales’ “selective process” of prosecuting cases.
DA Gonzales released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
“As the District Attorney, I’m accountable to the people of Bexar County, and they have shown overwhelming support at the ballot box for the work my office is doing to keep our families safe. The San Antonio PD’s statistics show an overall decline in violent crime. Dangerous criminals are being locked up. Our homicide conviction rates are the highest they’ve been in at least 12 years. Our felony DWI conviction rates are over 90%. Every one of the talented people who work in this office is entirely committed to our mission of upholding justice and keeping our communities safe. I look forward to continuing to work with and lead this incredibly dedicated group of people.”