Ex-San Antonio police officer hospitalized after shootout with Tennessee deputies

Lee Rakun was fired 6 times by SAPD and reinstated 5 times before retiring last year

Lee Rakun is under investigation after a shootout with Tennessee sheriff's deputies in Wears Valley on July 13, 2021. (KSAT)

A former San Antonio police officer who retired after a long history of misconduct may soon face criminal charges after he allegedly injured two family members and shot at a deputy in Sevier County, Tennessee, the KSAT 12 Defenders confirmed Thursday.

Lee Rakun, 52, was identified as the suspect in the shooting, which happened on July 13 at his home in the 3000 block of Robeson Road in Wears Valley, according to Sevier County Sheriff’s Office Chief Jeff McCarter.

Rakun’s charges are pending because the shooting left him hospitalized, McCarter said.

Deputies were called to the home just before 6 p.m., according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Rakun was armed when deputies arrived.

The confrontation escalated, authorities said, which resulted in a shootout between the deputies and the former police officer. Authorities said they are still determining who opened fire first.

Rakun was seriously injured in the shooting and taken to the hospital. Two of his family members were also treated for injuries that were sustained before deputies were called to the home, according to TBI.

A deputy was also injured in the incident, officials said.

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A long history of trouble at SAPD

Rakun’s problematic tenure with the San Antonio Police Department was prominently featured in the KSAT 12 Defenders investigative special, “Broken Blue.”

Records show he had been fired by SAPD at least six times and reinstated at least five times through arbitration or settlements with the city. Rakun retired before his sixth appeal was fully arbitrated.

Rakun also has a history of domestic violence incidents.

His lengthy disciplinary record is an example of the broad rights afforded to police officers in the city’s current collective bargaining agreement. City attorneys have cited Rakun’s case as an example of why they want to narrow the arbitrators’ power in the contract, which they are currently negotiating with the police union.

Rakun was first fired in 2005, after a strenuous encounter with a Kendall County sheriff’s deputy who responded to a disturbance complaint reported at his home. Rakun was accused of striking two women at his house, but the charges were later dropped after the victims withdrew their complaints, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

The lieutenant received another indefinite suspension later that year, when a man accused Rakun of making threatening calls, leading to a harassment charge from the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office. Despite that, the city agreed to a settlement in 2006 that allowed Rakun to be reinstated.

In 2010, Rakun was fired again, according to the newspaper. He was reportedly involved in two dating violence incidents with his girlfriend and lied to investigators about his version of events. Rakun and his girlfriend both accused each other of abuse. After appealing, he won his job back again after the punishment was reduced to a 125-day suspension.

In 2012, Rakun was handed his fourth indefinite suspension when he drunkenly used slurs while speaking to an off-duty constable at an Alamo Heights bar.

In that appeal, the arbitrator sided with Rakun, saying that Internal Affairs investigators were biased against him, according to the newspaper. Rakun was reinstated and served a 45-day suspension.

Six years later, Rakun received two more indefinite suspensions.

In one case, Rakun wrote a derogatory slur in a February 2018 Facebook post about Chief William McManus. McManus had addressed the media at that time in a police uniform top and gym shorts, due to knee surgery.

Rakun posted: “Really? This is our police chief for san antonio? Well, I guess I need to start showing up to work in some old fagged (oops ragged) out gym shorts Instead of police uniform. He sets the tone for the rest of us.”

The other firing came after Rakun continually left his substation while on duty for personal reasons. When his captain asked him about the absences, Rakun responded, “I’ll respond when you respond to the same allegations. It works both ways.”

Rakun was eventually allowed to retire from the department on Jan. 30, 2020, according to the police department.

Wears Valley is a small unincorporated area with about 6,000 people near The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


About the Authors:

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.

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.