BCSO deputy claimed he had probable cause to search vehicle. Video footage revealed a different story.

Deputy Joel Chavez fired after video contradicted his narrative on 2019 drug arrest

Bexar County Sheriff's Office logo.
Bexar County Sheriff's Office logo. (KSAT)

BEXAR COUTNY – A Bexar County law enforcement deputy was fired after a review of video evidence contradicted his narrative of a 2019 drug arrest, according to disciplinary records obtained KSAT 12 News revealed.

Deputy Joel Chavez received his termination paperwork on March 1, according to the records.

On Sept. 16, 2019, Chavez conducted a traffic stop after observing a vehicle speeding. Chavez searched the vehicle, which resulted in the driver being arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance.

But the driver, who had his own in-car video system, presented video evidence of the traffic stop to the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, according to the documents.

In his report, Chavez stated that he introduced himself to the driver.

“The video evidence shows, while you did give firm instructions for the driver to keep his hands on the wheel, you never introduced yourself,” according to the disciplinary records.

Chavez also stated that he observed the driver lean over and reach under his seat, which was also contradicted by the footage.

In his report, Chavez noted that he found a metal dish with a white powdery substance “in plain view.” But the video showed Chavez “began a systemic search” of the vehicle, finding the suspected contraband in the center console and the metal tray inside the glovebox compartment.

“In reviewing the video evidence, it is clear you did not have probable cause to search the defendant’s vehicle, making the seizure and subsequent arrest of the driver invalid,” officials wrote in the termination paperwork. “Furthermore, this evidence proves your official statement to be factually untrue and a fabrication of events.”

Chavez has been with the sheriff’s office for a few years, graduating from their 2018 Bravo patrol class.

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About the Author:

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.