- Detective Kenneth L. Valdez
The San Antonio Police Department has released details on how a single Special Victims Unit Detective neglected to properly investigate dozens of crimes — most involving sexual assault.
Detective Kenneth L. Valdez was indefinitely suspended from the SVU on November 2 for a number of violations taking place over of the past two years, according a suspension report obtained by the Current. The document, signed by SAPD Chief William McManus, indicates that Valdez specifically worked on cases related to sexual assault.
SAPD alleges that for an entire year (from August 2016 to August 2017) Valdez failed to submit forensic evidence to the Bexar County crime lab for any the 27 cases he was assigned to investigate over that time period. Of the 27 cases, 17 contained evidence that specifically needed forensic testing. The report claims Valdez also failed to properly take care of evidence recovered in an investigation — inspectors found unmarked cell phones, DVDs, CDs and cash in his office, along with several unmarked envelopes containing saliva swabs taken from a person's mouth.
At least twice, Valdez did not follow up on crucial information given to him from the crime lab about possible suspects in his cases. The report mentions one of his cases where he "failed to act" after learning that a known suspect's DNA was found on a victim. He instead concealed the information and closed the case without his supervisor's approval.
"This is ongoing and continuing conduct," the report repeatedly states. "The actions of [Valdez] did not conform to the ordinary and reasonable rules of good conduct and behavior and/or brought reproach and discredit on himself and the San Antonio Police Department.”
Valdez’ firing comes a week after Chief McManus announced that the SVU had failed to "properly investigate" at least 130 cases. It's unknown if Valdez is the only SVU member guilty of this charge.
"There simply is no excuse for such improper behavior, and Detective Valdez is not representative of the thousands of men and women in our police department who are passionately committed to protecting the most vulnerable among us," said San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley in a press release. She said the City Attorney's office has already begun an external investigation into how SVU handles its cases.
“The mishandling of these cases cannot be taken lightly, and today’s response was in keeping with the seriousness of the situation," said Mayor Ron Nirenberg shortly after Valdez’ hiring was made public. "We will ensure that systemic issues discovered by the independent investigation are resolved and justice is delivered.”