Sheriff moves to terminate lieutenant who was near Capitol insurrection, over inappropriate contact with inmate

Lt. Roxanne Mathai remains under investigation for posting multiple photographs on Facebook showing her near the U.S. Capitol during deadly riot

Lt. Roxanne Mathai (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A Bexar County Sheriff’s lieutenant who posted multiple photographs on Facebook showing her near the U.S. Capitol during January’s deadly insurrection has been handed a notice of proposed dismissal over an unrelated incident at the jail, BCSO officials confirmed this week.

Lt. Roxanne Mathai was notified of BCSO’s intention to terminate her last month.

Attorneys representing Mathai and BCSO officials have offered vastly different descriptions of what caused her to be placed on leave shortly after she was promoted to detention lieutenant last summer.

Mathai, 46, had been on administrative leave since last fall, after sheriff’s investigators were made aware of a possible inappropriate relationship between her and an inmate, BCSO Sheriff Javier Salazar previously said.

An attorney hired by Mathai, however, said earlier this year the description of the investigation was distorted by Salazar and that it involved Mathai receiving messages from someone she believed was in jail and using a contraband cellphone.

The attorney said in January he believed his client would be cleared of wrongdoing, since she contacted BCSO officials above her in the chain of command shortly after receiving the messages.

Mathai has since changed attorneys.

Video shows Texas lawmaker near steps of U.S. Capitol as rioters clashed with officers

Her current attorney, Nico LaHood, released the following statement Monday regarding Mathai’s proposed dismissal:

“Her termination was unjust and is not supported by the facts of the investigation. She will be exercising her right to appeal the Sheriff’s decision and looks forward to that process.”

Still hanging over Mathai is a separate investigation into her actions in Washington D.C. on January 6.

Mathai, who was pictured in a red, white and blue mask and draped in a President Donald Trump flag, posted photos on Facebook during a political rally near the White House and continued to post as she and thousand of other people marched to the Capitol as Congress began voting to certify the results of the November election.

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)

Included in Mathai’s posts was a picture showing rioters after they had broken through a police line and occupied the balcony of the Capitol.

“......And we are going the crowd at the stairs...not inside the capitol like the others. Not catching a case lol,” wrote Mathai next to a selfie and several photos of rioters scaling scaffolding in front of the Capitol.

“Not gonna lie.....aside from my kids, this was, indeed, the best day of my life. And it’s not over yet,” wrote Mathai alongside another series of photos.

Mathai’s former attorney said at no point did Mathai go into the federal building and that photos posted by her closer to the steps at the Capitol were done so later in the evening, after rioters had been cleared from the building and before a mandatory curfew had gone into effect.

The attorney said that, in later posts by Mathai on Facebook, she condemned the violence and praised police officers who were assembled outside the building after the rioters were removed.

The pictures, however, were enough for Salazar to open an internal investigation of Mathai and to have his staff forward the images to law enforcement in Washington, D.C., as well as the FBI.

Mathai has not been criminally charged.

More than 450 people have been criminally charged for their alleged roles in the riot. Five people died during the melee and more than 140 people were injured.

Salazar previously said he had been in contact with Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the San Antonio division of the FBI, to gather more information on when a dispersal order had been given to the crowd that gathered outside the Capitol.

BCSO officials released the following statement Monday evening:

“Through an ongoing administrative investigation for an inappropriate relationship with an inmate incarcerated at the Bexar County Adult Detention Center, a proposed dismissal was issued to Lt. Roxanne Mathai on April 8, 2021. Currently, Mathai has appealed the dismissal and it is currently in the grievance process. Mathai remains on unpaid administrative leave from the BCSO.”

About the Author:

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.