San Antonio – San Antonio’s police chief has questioned why the man accused of shooting three of his officers last week was still on the street despite multiple arrests and old charges.
But a top prosecutor in the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office said the delay on some of Jesse Garcia’s old cases was because of the chief’s own officers.
Garcia, 28, faces five charges of aggravated assault of a public servant, two charges of aggravated robbery and a charge of aggravated kidnapping following a violent rampage on the city’s Southwest and West Sides on Aug. 24.
In the year prior, he had also been twice arrested and released on bond, though not for any violent crimes.
Already a convicted felon, Garcia was first arrested in September 2022 for unauthorized use of a vehicle and felony drug possession, then again in June for car burglary, evading arrest in a vehicle, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
He was able to make bail both times by posting $17,000 and $40,000 in bonds, respectively.
However, the DA’s office said that after the bondsman who covered Garcia’s June arrest lost contact with him, those bonds were doubled and new warrants were issued in early August.
Police were trying to arrest him on those warrants when they said he opened fire last week.
SAPD Chief William McManus has spoken frequently of his frustrations with people who get out on bond and commit additional crimes.
“If you are a repeat offender and every time you get let out, you’re back at it again. As far as I’m concerned, you should be in jail ‘til your trial,” McManus told KSAT in an interview this week.
Police are the first step of the criminal justice system, he said, “and if there are parts of the criminal justice system that are not in sync with keeping dangerous people off the street, even pretrial, then that, that becomes an issue.”
“Let’s use the most recent example, for I think 11 months still un-indicted,” McManus said, in reference to Garcia’s charges from September. “And he’s out on the street committing crime after crime after crime.”
Being indicted would not have resulted in Garcia being put in custody again, but it would have meant his case was moving closer to trial.
First Assistant District Attorney Christian Henricksen told KSAT that judges generally can’t keep people locked up until trial under the state’s cash bond system, which he doesn’t think is working either.
“I mean, this is an old system that we have, and it was never designed to keep people in jail,” Henricksen told KSAT. “I mean, that’s kind of the point. It was designed to get people to come back to court.”
Even when someone like Garcia is arrested on new charges while already out on bond, Henricksen said there are limited circumstances in which they can be kept in jail.
Garcia, whose previous convictions and open cases before the shootings hadn’t included any violent crimes, did not fit that bill, he said.
As for why Garcia hadn’t been indicted yet on the charges from September, Henricksen said it was because San Antonio Police had not provided some “very simple, basic things” prosecutors needed.
“On the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle case, for example, there was never even a statement taken from the owner of the vehicle. That’s just basic,” he said.
After asking for a response to Henricksen’s comments, SAPD spokeswoman Lt. Michelle Ramos told KSAT that statements are typically captured on officer’s body cams.
She also said the DA’s office only reached out to detectives requesting additional information on the case on Aug. 25, the day after the shootings.
Garcia is now being held in jail after a judge revoked bonds in four of his previous cases.