Arbitrator sides with sheriff, upholds firing of BCSO lieutenant who was at deadly Capitol riot

Lt. Roxanne Mathai, 47, called protest outside US Capitol building one of the best days of her life

Bexar County Sheriff's Office Lt. Roxanne Mathai, (left), 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, Facebook screenshots)

SAN ANTONIO – An arbitrator has upheld the termination of a Bexar County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant, nearly a year after she posted multiple photographs on Facebook showing her near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as a protest erupted into a deadly riot, agency officials confirmed to the KSAT 12 Defenders.

Lt. Roxanne Mathai, 47, was given an order of dismissal in June, five months after Sheriff Javier Salazar said he intended to never have Mathai set foot in a BCSO building again.

Mathai appealed Salazar’s decision, then later argued before an arbitrator that she was simply present for a historic event, agency officials said.

“I just thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard. It’s not like you’re standing there for the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That’s a historic event. You’re there when fellow Americans lost their lives. That’s nothing to be proud of,” Salazar said during an interview with KSAT Monday evening.

He applauded the arbitrator’s decision to uphold his termination of Mathai.

Mathai’s attendance at the insurrection first became public in a report by the KSAT 12 Defenders on Jan. 7. She later claimed through an attorney she was unaware of the bloodshed at the riot.

Five people died during the riot or in its aftermath and more than 130 police officers were injured, some severely.

To date, more than 700 people accused of participating in the riot have been criminally charged by federal prosecutors.

Mathai, who has repeatedly stated she did not break any laws, has not been criminally charged.

Her attorneys did not respond to an email seeking comment Monday.

They previously told the Defenders they planned to file a wrongful termination lawsuit on behalf of Mathai. As of Monday night, the Defenders could find no such filings in state or federal court.

“When that information first came to me I was infuriated. I was embarrassed that here we are seeing just a treasonous act on our country, and one that people lost their lives during the foolishness that went on during January 6th. And then to find out that not only did I have a deputy there partaking in it, it was a high-ranking deputy. That was just something that I couldn’t believe from the onset,” said Salazar.

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)

Pictured in a red, white and blue mask and draped in a President Donald Trump flag, Mathai posted photos throughout the day Jan. 6 as the world watched Washington, D.C., burst into chaos.

In the photos, Mathai was shown walking and stating she was headed to the Capitol after listening to Trump deliver a speech during the “Save America March.”

Mathai also posted a picture showing rioters after they had broken through a police line and occupied the balcony of the Capitol.

“......And we are going in......in 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 attorney earlier this year said Mathai approached the steps of the Capitol, but added that a 35-second video clip posted to Facebook in which she says, “We’re going in. Tear gas and all. Tear gas don’t bother me,” was social media bluster.

Clouds of chemical irritants, which are typically used by police to disperse crowds, could be seen during the footage.

Separately, a proposed dismissal handed to Mathai earlier this year following an unrelated investigation into a possible inappropriate relationship between her and an inmate was shortened to 120 days, officials acknowledged this summer.

Mathai was able to get the punishment reduced after going through the grievance process.

Attorneys representing Mathai have taken issue with Salazar’s description of that incident, claiming it simply involved Mathai receiving messages from someone she believed was in jail and using a contraband cellphone and was in no way sexual in nature.


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. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.