Judge dismisses lawsuit that sought to have McManus removed as police chief

City Attorney Andy Segovia says city pleased with result

SAPD Chief William McManus addresses the media.

SAN ANTONIO – A Bexar County judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed early this year that sought to have San Antonio Police Department Chief William McManus removed from his position.

The “quo warranto” suit filed in Bexar County district court in January by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton attempted to have the longtime chief removed from his office over his handling of a 2017 immigrant release incident.

“Quo warranto” is a Latin phrase meaning “by what warrant?” and essentially requires someone in a position of authority to demonstrate why he or she acted a certain way.

The suit claimed McManus repeatedly violated the Texas Government Code in December 2017 when he made the decision to release 12 suspected undocumented immigrants found inside a tractor-trailer on the East Side instead of handing them over to federal immigration officials.

Judge Mary Lou Alvarez dismissed the case Tuesday, citing a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, court records show.

Subject matter jurisdiction is essentially a court’s ability to hear only certain sorts of claims.

City Attorney Andy Segovia, who described the filing as a frivolous lawsuit earlier this year, applauded the court’s decision in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

“We are obviously pleased with the result. The City of San Antonio and the Chief have always cooperated and continue to cooperate with federal authorities, which is what SB4 mandates. Unfortunately, this lawsuit and the accompanying lawsuit in Travis County are unnecessary politically driven drains on public resources,” Segovia said through a city spokeswoman.

A second lawsuit filed by Paxton against McManus in Travis County in late 2018 regarding the same incident remains pending, although there has been no movement in the case since mid-September, court records show.

Paxton has repeatedly said McManus’ decision to release the suspected immigrants was a violation of Senate Bill 4, a controversial law passed months before the incident that requires law enforcement agencies in Texas to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

A Defenders investigation in February revealed that the city had spent more than $2.75 million in outside attorney fees to fight the Travis County suit, which also named the police department and the city.

The city was able to get a judge to dismiss portions of that suit in the summer of 2019.

After the Defenders sought comment from McManus Wednesday, SAPD media officials deferred to the statement from the city attorney’s office.

About the Author:

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.