SAPD: Officer infected with COVID-19 worked more than 4 days after possible exposure to virus

SAPD working with Metro Health to determine possible exposure to public, other officers

SAPD officer tests positive for COVID-19

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Police Department officials confirmed to KSAT Tuesday that an officer who tested positive for COVID-19 last week worked for more than four days after the officer was potentially exposed.

In mid-March, the officer came into contact with a family member who may have also contracted the virus, sources told KSAT.

Last week, he told a supervisor he was not feeling well and was then advised to seek medical attention and not return to work, a department spokesperson said via email Tuesday.

SAPD officials have not said exactly when the officer was exposed to the virus or when he stopped working.

The officer, a seven-year veteran of SAPD, is recovering at home, city officials said earlier this week. The family member has not been confirmed to have the virus.

He is the first rank and file SAPD officer to contract the virus, according to the department.

SAPD officer tests positive for COVID-19, health officials say

SAPD is now working alongside Metro Health to track down all of the officer’s interactions with the public and fellow officers.

The KSAT 12 Defenders on Tuesday requested a copy of all warnings and traffic citations issued by the officer in question for a nine-day period earlier this month. Those records have so far not been handed over to the Defenders by the department.

Two other officers were identified as having a high risk of exposure and are now under quarantine, a city spokesperson said via email Monday.

An SAPD spokesperson confirmed Tuesday that, in all, 12 sworn officers and four civilians who work for the department are in quarantine.

Officers have been given the option to isolate themselves away from their homes to decrease the risk of possibly getting a family member sick, officials confirmed late Monday.

SAPD officials sent another San Antonio media outlet a lengthy email explaining how their reporting on the infected officer on Monday was “factually deficient.”

The email, which asked the other outlet to issue a correction, stated that the reporter incorrectly reported that the officer traveled to New York City.

New York City is currently the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, with over 75,000 cases.

The outlet’s report also claimed the officer had contact with more than 30 drivers after being exposed. SAPD officials have called that claim into question.

The email sent by SAPD officials to the outlet stated:

“It is irresponsible to run with a story in which you have not properly vetted your sources. As you can imagine, rumors are running rampant throughout the department. These rumors have led to fear and outright panic due to the numerous false and misleading statements that you have reported as facts. We have been transparent with what we can release and will continue to do so but we need your help. Now more than ever, this is the time for you to be accurate and sure of what exactly you are reporting. Your report last night was unfair to the officer, his co-workers, the department and ultimately the community.”

At last check Tuesday afternoon, a link to the outlet’s original story had been replaced with a message that read “Error in exception handler.”

The story was still accessible, however, through some links posted to social media. It’s unclear if the post was meant to be completely removed.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.


About the Authors:

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.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy-nominated photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.