City architect suspended after heated confrontation with co-workers

Byron Smith suspended five days following Nov. 6 incident inside City Tower, records show

San Antonio City Tower downtown. (Joshua Saunders, KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio’s city architect was suspended five days after taking part in a heated confrontation last month with co-workers, discipline records obtained by KSAT Investigates show.

Byron Smith served the suspension from Nov. 13-17 following an investigation into the Nov. 6 incident at City Tower downtown.

Ten witnesses gave the city’s human resources department their accounts of what happened as part of an investigation into unprofessional workplace behavior.

During a staff meeting, Smith asked for an update on the Spanish Governor’s Palace.

Smith’s tone was described by witnesses as “raised” and that an argument between Smith and two male subordinates continued after the meeting concluded, records show.

Co-workers wrote in statements about the incident that Smith “bowed up his chest” and got within an inch of one of the men’s faces.

Multiple witnesses wrote that the co-worker then told Smith to “get off my face,” records show.

Other witnesses described hearing yelling coming from the room and that shouting continued after one of the men tried to leave, records show.

One of the men involved in the confrontation with Smith described the interaction as a “violent workplace” incident, according to the records.

Security eventually responded to the incident and one of the men involved left work for the day, records show.

Smith had been counseled prior to the incident about past unprofessional behavior toward staff members, his personnel file shows.

Questioned about the confrontation, Smith acknowledged bowing up his chest to one of the men because “I stood up to a threat as he was a threat,” the records show.

Smith also acknowledged staying near one of the men despite being repeatedly told to step away, according to the records.

“One of the City of San Antonio’s core values is professionalism. We thoroughly investigate any incidents of unprofessionalism and address them appropriately. As a result of this incident, Mr. Smith was given a five-day suspension,” Public Works Director Razi Hosseini said in a written statement.

Hosseini added that the other two men received verbal counseling on professionalism but were not disciplined. All three staffers remain employed with the Public Works Department.

About the Author:

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.