SAPD fires officer accused of taking guns, ammo from councilman’s gun buyback event

Officer David Mahula received indefinite suspension last month for rules violations related to truthfulness and conduct and behavior

A stack of weapons turned over by residents during a November gun buyback event outside the Alamodome. (Matthew Craig, KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Police Department has fired an officer accused of taking weapons and ammunition during a city councilman-sponsored gun buyback event outside the Alamodome late last year, discipline records obtained by KSAT Investigates show.

Officer David Mahula on May 9 was handed an indefinite suspension, tantamount to being fired, after an internal affairs investigation determined he was untruthful when questioned by investigators and had demonstrated improper conduct and behavior.

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Mahula had worked for SAPD since February 2006, city human resources records show.

Aide to Councilman Courage saw Mahula put weapons in his personal vehicle

Residents turned in more than 900 weapons during the Nov. 19 event in the parking lot of the Alamodome in exchange for H-E-B gift cards, in what was described as the city’s first-ever gun buyback event.

The program was sponsored by District 9 City Councilman John Courage, who previously told KSAT he had pushed for this type of gun exchange program for years.

Shortly after the event concluded, Bryan Naylor, an aide to Councilman Courage, reported seeing an SAPD officer assigned to assist with the program place two weapons in his personal vehicle, discipline records show.

During an interview with investigators weeks later, Mahula admitted asking multiple citizens if he could buy or have their weapons instead of them surrendering them, records show.

Mahula said there were “no takers.”

Nine boxes of ammunition were found in Mahula’s personal vehicle, the records show.

Mahula told investigators he kept the surrendered ammo in order to destroy it at the firearm range, according to records.

He also told investigators he had placed two rifles and a World War II-era handgun in his personal vehicle to “safeguard” them and to separate weapons that potentially had historical significance, records show.

In late January, Naylor was shown photos of the weapons Mahula claimed to have set aside. The photos were of different weapons than Naylor had seen the officer place in his personal vehicle, according to records.

A resident who had surrendered two shotguns during the event also gave a statement to SAPD contradicting Mahula’s claims about which weapons he had placed in his personal vehicle, records shows.

Dashboard-camera footage showed Mahula wrap a handgun in a jacket and then place the jacket in his personal vehicle, according to records.

Video also showed Mahula place a brown handgun case/holster in the back of another officer’s vehicle, only to appear to move it to her personal vehicle about 10 minutes later, records show.

Two fellow SAPD officers working at the same tent as Mahula during the event questioned him on the whereabouts of the World War II-era handgun.

“One of these officers reported that Officer Mahula responded to their inquiry by placing a finger over his lips, and the other officer reported that Officer Mahula made a facial expression that the officer interpreted as ‘be quiet.’ Both officers stated that Officer Mahula later showed them a U.S. Government-issued Colt handgun inside of a case/holster similar to the one observed in the COBAN video,” Mahula’s termination paperwork states.

It is unclear in the discipline paperwork how many weapons Mahula is accused of taking and whether all of those weapons have since been recovered.

Mahula’s list of allegations state that two of the weapons were later turned in, but were different weapons than the ones he was seen placing in his personal vehicle, records show.

KSAT could find no record that Mahula was ever criminally charged.

Reached for comment Wednesday, Naylor said he would call back KSAT.

Derek Roberts, Councilman Courage’s chief of staff, then called KSAT and said Naylor was not comfortable commenting publicly about the incident.

Courage released the following statement to KSAT Wednesday afternoon:

“Public safety is the number one responsibility of the City Government and is my highest priority. I want to take this opportunity to thank the San Antonio Police Department and Chief McManus. SAPD is the backbone of public safety, and I trust them to keep doing what is right. We appreciate the San Antonio Police Department’s support in the first Voluntary Weapons Exchange in San Antonio (2023). As we organize the second Voluntary Weapons Exchange, we will continue to work hand in hand with SAPD and trust fully that Chief McManus has excellent, trained staff to conduct another successful event with the utmost respect and due diligence.”

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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