FAIR OAKS RANCH, Texas – A former officer of the year for the Fair Oaks Ranch Police Department said she was fired this month after exposing multiple acts of misconduct by the department’s chief.
Lacey Gonzalez, a six-year veteran of the small department located northwest of San Antonio, was separated from the agency on Oct. 6, months after detailing a myriad of possible rules violations by Chief Tim Moring in a 14-page written complaint.
The complaint, which was obtained by KSAT earlier this year, accused Moring of intimidation, threats, being physically violent to other officers, pulling out his service weapon and pointing it at a fellow officer and providing city staff members a prescription stimulant off duty.
Moring was placed on paid administrative leave after the complaint was filed this summer but was reinstated to his command post on Oct. 10, after city officials said an independent investigation found all allegations against Chief Moring were unfounded or not sustained.
“There’s a code, you don’t talk. Because if you do something you’re going to get retaliated against,” said Gonzalez.
She told KSAT in an interview this month that she is still processing what happened to her.
“This is my life for the last six years. A lot of sacrifice was given to that department. You would think at some point they would do the right thing. But then again, seeing what’s happened to previous officers, it doesn’t surprise me,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez’s attorney, Adam Muery, said his client is at least the fourth officer to be terminated or to face termination after raising concerns about Moring’s behavior.
“You can make suppositions about why somebody would be afraid of upsetting a law enforcement officer. I don’t know what he knows or why it is that they would stand by him,” said Muery, a former police officer who now represents law enforcement officers in employment disputes.
Gonzalez was named Fair Oaks Ranch employee of the year, according to the department’s 2022 annual report.
“Nothing but glowing reviews in her job performance, commendations from the community,” said Muery, who added that he is currently appealing Gonzalez’s termination through the city as well as the dishonorable discharge she was given by the department with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
A dishonorable discharge is reserved for officers who separate from an agency in connection with allegations of criminal misconduct, insubordination or untruthfulness. Having that designation makes it difficult to get hired by another law enforcement agency in Texas.
Muery said department officials cited a personal matter — that Gonzalez was cleared of two months earlier — as a reason to terminate her this month.
He said she was also terminated for violating a Garrity order, by discussing the department’s investigation of her. Muery said Gonzalez’s discussions of the case were with her legal counsel, which is protected communication.
Gonzalez, according to Muery, was also terminated for failing to report potential rules violations by Moring in a timely manner.
“Hindsight being 20/20, people can easily say ‘Oh, well, the very first time you saw anything you should have reported it.’ That’s hard to say to an officer who sees every other officer who reports it, get terminated, get run off, lose their job,” said Muery.
Muery did not put much merit in the city’s appeals process, claiming the city changed its process “midstream” while he represented former Fair Oaks Ranch police investigator Richard Davila in a 2020 termination dispute.
Gonzalez’s complaint against Moring laid out a number of incidents on duty and off duty covering several years.
Gonzalez wrote that dried substances on the walls of the department’s patrol room and kitchen area were from Moring throwing food items against the walls while engaging in “unpredictable and irate” behavior, the complaint alleges.
In an unrelated incident, Gonzalez wrote that she walked into Moring’s office for a work-related matter “and immediately Chief Moring aggressively stated in a threatening manner to ‘get the f*** out.’” Moring sent a text message to Gonzalez later in the shift apologizing for his behavior, according to the complaint.
In 2018, then-Lieutenant Moring said he would “blackball” an officer who failed to detect drugs on a person who was being arrested.
Gonzalez wrote that in 2019 she witnessed then-Lt. Moring pull his service weapon out of its holster and point it at the torso area of a fellow officer while a group of officers were gathered in Moring’s office.
That same year, Gonzalez said she witnessed Moring provide the prescription stimulant Adderall to a fellow officer and an animal control officer at a retirement party for the department’s previous chief. Gonzalez said she witnessed both officers ingest the stimulant.
“I could immediately confirm through training and experience that the pills were 15 mg of Adderall pills,” wrote Gonzalez.
She wrote that Moring offered to give her an Adderall pill at work that same year, referring to it as a G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) pill. She said Moring changed the subject when she asked what a G.O.A.T. pill was, according to the complaint.
During the initial months of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, officers were assigned cleaning duties on each shift, according to the complaint. Gonzalez wrote that she saw Moring shove a lieutenant against a wall with both hands “in a very stern and aggressive manner” while trying to take a mop from him.
In mid-July, shortly before Gonzalez filed her complaint, she wrote that while speaking to Moring he “hit his hands hard on his desk, turned red and knocked down items from his desk and then stated, ‘I am not going to put up with your piss a** attitude or gender claiming bullsh** anymore!’”
In an unrelated incident, a dashboard-camera video obtained by KSAT Investigates shows a Fair Oaks Ranch police vehicle pursuing a speeding car along Fair Oaks Parkway last fall.
After the car pulls over, the footage shows an officer walking up to the vehicle and recognizing the driver as Moring.
“Tim, don’t do that to me!” the officer yells after seeing Moring behind the wheel.
Multiple sources said Moring was driving a seized Toyota sedan during the incident. A former Fair Oaks Ranch employee, who spoke with KSAT on the condition of anonymity, said Moring has repeatedly sped along public roadways in city-owned vehicles “to keep officers on their toes.”
KSAT could find no record that Moring was disciplined for the incident.
City officials, including Moring, declined to comment to KSAT about the allegations.
“I mean, this is things for which he should be going to prison and instead they’re keeping him in his position and retaliating against the officers who are brave enough to speak out against him,” said Muery.
KSAT Investigates requested a copy of the independent investigation of Moring. City officials have acknowledged the public records request but so far have not released the records.
KSAT could find no record that Moring has been accused or charged with any crimes by law enforcement and could find no legal or disciplinary finding that he abused his power.
Davila lawsuit vs. Fair Oaks Ranch scheduled for trial
Davila filed suit against Fair Oaks Ranch in 2021 claiming he was wrongfully terminated from his position.
His petition frequently names Moring and includes details from a July 2020 incident in which Davila said Moring and a sergeant entered the property room without proper authority. Moring then disposed of evidence using a court order from a previous year, the lawsuit states.
Following the incident, Davila was removed from being in charge of the property room, his investigation files were transferred and he was reassigned to city hall, before being terminated, according to the suit.
The suit is scheduled for mediation this fall, according to multiple sources.
It is tentatively scheduled for trial in early February, Bexar County court records show.