UPDATE 8:19 p.m.:
A spokesperson for Langley Productions has issued the following statement to KTSA News:
“Specific policies and procedures for chases are set by departments in advance, and vary from one jurisdiction to another. The COPS television show does not set or control such policies, and moreover, these policies do not change based on the presence or absence of our production crews.”
UPDATE 5:00 p.m.:
Bexar County sheriff Javier Salazar has offered the following statement to KTSA News:
“The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office pursuit policy was made more restrictive when I took office in 2017 with feedback from the Sheriff’s and Citizen’s Organized for Public Engagement Committee (S.C.O.P.E.). As a result, last night’s pursuit ended with the apprehension of two dangerous felons. If there is any blame to assign in these incidents, it is on the two dangerous felons that fled from deputies and on the inattentive driver who struck the SAPD Police Officer an hour after the felony pursuit and crash.”
Additional reporting by KTSA’s Dennis Foley.
SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — San Antonio Police Chief William McManus believes a national TV crew riding with Bexar County Sheriff’s deputies may have factored into the decision to continue the chase that ended up going the wrong-way on IH 35.
McManus didn’t hesitate when asked at a news conference Friday morning whether the COPS TV crew ride along affected the pursuit Thursday evening.
“Let me be very direct in my answer. The answer is yes,” he said.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar disagrees.
“I take exception to that insinuation, whoever that may be by,” said Salazar. “There was a TV crew with one of our deputies to highlight their work, and that TV crew is going to spend the next several weeks with our deputies, but it certainly doesn’t affect the way that they work,” said Salazar.
McManus is upset that one of his police officers was injured during the investigation after the chase ended on IH 35. Officer Ralph Delgado, an 11-year veteran of SAPD, was hit by a truck while setting up flares and was pinned against a guardrail. He underwent surgery at San Antonio Military Medical Center for a leg injury. McManus says the officer may lose his career because of the injury.
“Am I angry about it? Yes, I am,” he said.
The chase began around 6:30 Thursday evening on Austin Highway and Lanark when the driver of a pickup refused to pull over for a traffic stop. The pursuit continued on several city streets before going the wrong way on the access road of IH 35 and onto the main lanes of the highway.
McManus noted that the police department changed its pursuit policy in 2013.
“We don’t pursue for traffic violations. In short, the only things that we’ll pursue for are violent felonies or misdemeanors where there’s a firearm involved,” said McManus.
He said it comes down to public safety.
“If it were your wife or husband or daughter or son, or my wife or daughter or son and I knew the vehicle was being chased for a traffic offense?” said McManus.
Salazar says a supervisor authorized the pursuit, and while it started as a traffic violation, it turns out the driver and his passenger had about a dozen felony warrants.
“I think it’s very, very easy for yourself or me or anybody else to Monday-morning-quarterback a deputy for a split-second decision he has to make several times a day,” Salazar said.
He said they’re investigating all aspects of the pursuit. They’ll also consider whether the BCSO pursuit policy “needs to be looked at.”