Bexar County pays $395K settlement to BCSO lieutenant fired after posting selfies at Capitol riot

Sheriff Javier Salazar defends terminating Lt. Roxanne Mathai: ‘There was no wrongdoing on the part of the administration.’

Bexar County Sheriff's Office Lt. Roxanne Mathai, who was pictured in a red, white and blue mask and draped in a President Donald Trump flag, posted images from the deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. She posted images on social media throughout the day. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIOUPDATE -- This article now includes a statement from former BCSO Lt. Roxanne Mathai and her attorney, Mark Anthony Sánchez

A Bexar County Sheriff’s lieutenant fired months after posting selfies outside the U.S. Capitol during the deadly 2021 riot has received a $395,000 settlement from the county, her attorney confirmed to KSAT Investigates.

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The settlement for ex-Lt. Roxanne Mathai comes a year and a half after she filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Antonio accusing the county and Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar of violating her rights to free speech.

The San Antonio Express-News first reported the settlement in the case.

Mathai, who posted multiple photographs on Facebook showing her near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as a protest erupted into a deadly riot, was terminated months later for rules violations, including conduct unbecoming an officer and failing to report crimes.

Pictured in a red, white and blue mask and draped in a President Donald Trump flag, Mathai posted photos throughout the day on Jan. 6, 2021, as the world watched Washington, D.C., burst into chaos.

In the photos, Mathai was shown walking and states she was headed to the Capitol after listening to Trump deliver a speech during the “Save America March.”

Mathai also posted a picture showing rioters after they had broken through a police line and occupied the balcony of the Capitol.

A day after the riot, Salazar told the media he intended to never let Mathai set foot in a BCSO building again.

An arbitrator in late 2021 upheld Mathai’s termination. She then filed suit in federal court in late 2022, alleging retaliatory discharge.

A mediator assigned to Mathai’s case informed the court late last month that the two sides had reached a settlement agreement.

The county’s insurer will pay a majority of the settlement funds, multiple parties associated with the suit confirmed to KSAT.

Salazar released the following statement to KSAT regarding the settlement:

“The termination in this case was done within policy and was upheld by an arbitrator. The decision to issue a settlement was made outside the BCSO. There was no wrongdoing on the part of the administration, and I stand by our actions.”

During a deposition in late November, Salazar stated that deputies are required to report crimes they witness to a supervisor, even while on vacation.

An attorney used the hypothetical example of a BCSO employee who sees someone steal an iPhone from a beach bag while vacationing in Cancun and then asked whether that would have to be reported to a supervisor.

Salazar responded, “Yes,” according to the deposition.

Salazar, also during his deposition, stated he believed Mathai is a terrorist.

“I believe it — that the insurrection itself was a terrorist act, and she was there in support of it,” said Salazar during his deposition.

“I believe she was there in full support of a terrorist incident,” added Salazar during his deposition.

Mathai never went inside the Capitol building and was not formally accused of criminal wrongdoing by any law enforcement agency.

“We are pleased to announce that a settlement has been reached in the case of Roxanne Michele Mathai versus Bexar County, Texas and Javier Salazar,” attorney Mark Anthony Sánchez said in a written statement, adding that Mathai is permitted to reapply for employment with BCSO.

“This outcome reaffirms our commitment to defending sacred First Amendment rights enshrined in our Constitution and holding accountable those who seek to violate them,” said Sánchez.

“I am grateful for the unwavering support of my attorney, Mark Anthony Sanchez, Sr., and the countless individuals who stood by me throughout this challenging ordeal,” Mathai said in a written statement released through her attorney. “This settlement not only provides closure for me personally but also sends a powerful message that wrongful termination will not be tolerated.”

Read more reporting on the KSAT Investigates page.

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.

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