Records turn up more misconduct for Schertz officer involved in Zekee Rayford arrest

Frank Chavarria cited multiple times during tenure with UT Health Science Center police

Officer Frank Chavarria's personnel files turned up a discipline history prior to his arrest of Zekee Rayford. (KSAT)

New personnel records obtained by the KSAT Defenders revealed more discipline history on Frank Chavarria, one of the Schertz police officers who are the subject of an internal investigation following the violent arrest of 18-year-old Zekee Rayford.

Chavarria, along with officers Megan Fennesy and Danielle Apgar, kicked, kneed and shocked Rayford with a stun gun on Nov. 2 after he ran from his car to the front door of his home on Keanna Place and called for his father. Police said Rayford eluded them after he ran a red light on Schertz Parkway. The teen is charged with evading arrest, evading arrest with a vehicle and resisting arrest.

Chavarria had only been on the Schertz police force for one month at the time of Rayford’s arrest. Before that, he spent more than two years at Converse police, where he was suspended once for a botched arrest. Prior to his time in Converse, Chavarria worked as a police officer for the UT Health Science Center, which released Chavarria’s personnel file to the KSAT Defenders on Wednesday.

During his two years and three months at that department, Chavarria was cited three times, the records showed.

While he was a probationary officer on his third month for the job, a sergeant wrote up Chavarria for relying too much on others to make decisions for him.

“During a traffic stop that I backed him up on he asked me ‘that if I wanted him to arrest the guy he would,’” the sergeant wrote.

He also said Chavarria failed to “keep verbal control” in November 2015 while arresting a man who was pulled over for reckless driving and outstanding arrest warrants.

“He allowed the arrestee to make the stop into a debate on each other’s actions,” the sergeant wrote. “Officers Chavarria lacked professionalism during that stop and it was unacceptable.”

In January 2016, Chavarria was written up again, this time for not being truthful to his supervisors.

Chavarria signed up for a patrol rifle class, and needed to secure ammo from a captain at the department.

Although the captain responded to Chavarria’s request and attempted to set up a time to give him the ammo, Chavarria did not follow up for weeks and told his supervisor that the captain had never responded to his request for ammo.

Chavarria’s claim was untrue.

“The behavior mentioned in this memo is unacceptable,” a sergeant wrote in the disciplinary memo.

Months later, in September 2016, Chavarria was patrolling the area when he noticed a car traveling 57 mph in a 40 mph zone.

Chavarria reached a speed of 90 mph, crossing three lanes of traffic and passing four other vehicles to catch up to the car. After being denied consent to search the vehicle, Chavarria received a verbal warning for the speeding violation.

“The speeds you reach and your manner of driving was significantly disproportionate to the violation observed and were unsafe,” a sergeant wrote in the disciplinary notice.

Each time, Chavarria’s corrective action was to review the policies he violated. Records showed no suspensions with UT Health Science Center police for his misconduct.

During his tenure there, Chavarria also received praise multiple times, records showed.

Director of Police Michael Heidingsfield and UTHSC Police Chief Michael Parks thanked Chavarria after different arrests he made, including an aggravated robbery and kidnapping arrest in 2016. Chavarria and other officers were also recognized for calling paramedics for a diabetic student in need of medical attention.

Chavarria’s disciplinary history may be brought up by Rayford’s attorneys, who seek to drop the charges against him. In a past news conference, they said one of the officers in Rayford’s arrest may have a “checkered past.” It isn’t clear which officer they were referring to.

Chavarria’s attorney, Robert McCabe, previously told KSAT the officer’s work history has “zero effect” on how the Schertz Police Department views his actions in the Rayford arrest.

“Further, this does not change the fact that Zekee Rayford unlawfully fled from officers both in his vehicle and on foot and refused to comply with their lawful and reasonable demands to yield to their authority once he was apprehended,” McCabe said.

The three officers involved in Rayford’s arrest have been removed from patrol duty pending the outcome of the internal investigation.

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About the Authors:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. He provides restaurant health reports for KSAT's "Behind the Kitchen Door." Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.