Detectives Say E-Mail Author Who Targeted Cris Medina Did Not Break The Law
When an email went out to members of the media alleging wrongdoing by San Antonio City Councilman Cris Medina, the District 7 representative filed charges against the email sender for impersonating him.
After a review by detectives, it appears the anonymous writer did not break the law.
The email outlined several areas where the writer, whomever it may be, thought illegal activity was taking place in Medina's city council office. Because the city still has time to respond to several open records requests filed by Texas Public Radio, the specific allegations aren't being revealed yet by TPR.
Medina took steps to go after the writer because his name appeared on the sender's email account. After nearly a week of requests from the San Antonio Police Department, TPR obtained a copy of the report generated after the charges were filed. But the outcome may not be what Medina expected.
Detectives concluded that they did not find an associated web page to the account, which is a requirement for an offense under the online impersonation section of the Penal Code.
In a report, they said just sending the message isn't against the law, since communications through an "electronic mail program" are specifically excluded in the statute.
Also explained in the report is that although Medina is locally recognizable, the law states that his name and date of birth or other specific identifiers would have to be used in order to constitute a crime.
Finally, the detectives noted that the writer voices her own concerns, starting the email by stating that she is a female staff member and is speaking as her own person -- not representing the councilman.
Medina tells TPR he still believes the author broke the law by impersonating him or a former staffer. "At the very least it stinks of defamation and libel," he said.
"If we find out who did it, I plan to pursue civil damages and relief," said Medina.
The councilman's policy adviser, Colin Strother, said he thinks the findings are wrong and that the anonymous email under Medina's name meets code criteria to make this case unlawful.
The fact that Medina's name is on it made people believe it was from the councilman, Strother said by phone Monday. He said that the code doesn't specify content of a message.
"We'll get to the bottom of it," said Strother.