Bexar County law enforcement officer arrests rose 20 percent in 2021

A combined 25 peace officers from SAPD, BCSO charged in 2021; up 20% from 2020

Top (left to right): Danilo Molina, Toribio Gutierrez, Dezi Rios and Marshall Shepard. Bottom (left to right): Abigail Colbert, Erik Rodriguez, Maverick Moreland and Gerard Mamorno. (KSAT)

Read more stories wrapping 2021 here.

Twenty-five peace officers from Bexar County’s two largest law enforcement agencies were arrested in 2021, marking an increase from the previous year, records compiled by the KSAT 12 Defenders show.

The tally, which includes BCSO deputies and SAPD officers arrested off-duty or charged after they had been terminated by their respective agencies for the incidents, was 20% higher than in 2020. That year, a combined 20 law enforcement officers from the two agencies faced criminal charges.

The charges ranged from DWI to inappropriate behavior while working at the jail to more serious offenses such as possession of child pornography, sexual assault and aggravated assault by a peace officer.

SAPD

In all, 11 SAPD officers faced criminal charges this year, compared to seven in 2020.

SAPD officer Erik Rodriguez had a flurry of legal issues beginning in January, when investigators accused him of accepting money in exchange for providing information to the suspect in a domestic violence case.

Rodriguez, who resigned from SAPD after being handed an indefinite suspension in March, was indicted in late January on charges of bribery, misuse of public information and possession of child pornography.

Rodriguez is free on bond awaiting trial in all three cases, court records show.

Officer James Nicholson was charged with DWI and unlawful carry of a handgun in late January.

Nicholson, who is free on bond in both cases, is scheduled to appear in court next March. He was suspended indefinitely by SAPD this summer.

Officer Dezi Rios, who has a documented history of road rage, resigned from SAPD last month while facing charges from a hit-and-run crash this summer.

Rios, 39, had been on suspension without pay following the July crash, in which he was accused of fleeing the scene and then assaulting the driver of the vehicle he crashed into.

The man suffered a broken nose, significant trauma to his face and injuries to his shoulder, elbow and knee after being punched by Rios — according to the man’s count — between 20-25 times.

Rios faces pending charges of DWI and failure to stop and provide information, but has not been criminally charged with assault, court records show.

Officer Marshall Shepard was suspended without pay in April, after a grand jury indicted him on charges of assault and official oppression.

Shepard is accused of striking a suspect in the face multiple times and injuring him after the man resisted arrest in May 2020.

Shepard is free on bond awaiting trial, records show.

City officials confirm Shepard remains on unpaid suspension.

Former SAPD officers Thomas Villarreal and Carlos Castro were indicted last week, nearly two years after they were accused of assaulting a man inside his home following an attempted traffic stop.

Villarreal and Castro, who were terminated by SAPD in July 2020, face first-degree felony charges of aggravated assault by a public servant.

BCSO

Bexar County Sheriff’s Office deputy arrests rose slightly this year, from 13 to 14, after sworn personnel were arrested on accusations ranging from family violence to groping a cadet and sexual assault.

Deputy Gerard Mamorno was arrested in January on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child, after investigators said he sexually assaulted a 7-year-old girl several years ago.

Mamorno, who had worked off and on for BCSO as a bailiff, resigned weeks after his arrest while still under administrative investigation. Mamorno is free on bond awaiting indictment, court records show.

Probationary deputy Abigail Colbert was fired in March, after she was charged with DWI.

Colbert’s arrest, the seventh of a BCSO deputy in the first 10 weeks of 2021, put the agency on pace to have more than 30 arrests this year. Deputy arrests, however, occurred far less frequently after then.

Colbert’s charge was dismissed last month, after a motion to suppress was granted in her case, court records show.

Danilo Molina, a jailer who had been with the sheriff’s office for roughly 30 years, was charged in January with falsifying a government document.

Molina retired last year, shortly after a deputy told his supervisor that Molina would have inmates conduct cell checks, Sheriff Javier Salazar previously said.

As part of the alleged scheme, Molina would give his hand-held sensor to the inmate, who would use it during the cell checks to show that a deputy checked on the cell. Molina would then falsify the records, indicating that he checked the cells himself.

Molina pleaded no contest in May, in exchange for serving two years of probation and paying $1,355 in fines and court costs, court records show.

Deputy Maverick Moreland was charged with assault family violence and criminal mischief after an incident at a North Side bar in January involving another off-duty deputy he was dating.

Moreland, who was terminated by BCSO in September, was able to get both criminal charges dismissed in late October.

Prosecutors cited insufficient evidence as the reason for the dismissal in the assault case, and the complainant waived prosecution in the criminal mischief case, records show.

BCSO firearms instructor Deputy Toribio Gutierrez was arrested in May on charges of indecent assault and official oppression, after he was accused of groping at least one female cadet through her clothing during training.

Gutierrez also made inappropriate comments, asking female cadets for their personal social media information, BCSO officials said.

When he was rejected, Gutierrez allegedly responded, “you want to graduate, don’t you,” Sheriff Salazar said in May.

“That, quite frankly, is infuriating for me to hear,” Salazar said.

Since the investigation was launched, Salazar said a total of five female cadets came forward to report Gutierrez’s behavior.

Gutierrez, who is free on bond, is awaiting indictment in the official oppression case.

He is scheduled to next appear in court in the indecent assault case in early February.

Gutierrez retired from BCSO at the end of June, while still under investigation by the agency.


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.