AUSTIN (KXAN) — New details from an Austin Police Department search warrant reveal new details about a report of sexual misconduct by one of its officers. The woman told investigators that the officer made a number of inappropriate phone calls before coming to her home and sexually assaulting her when she was unconscious.
The department is currently conducting a criminal investigation into an allegation that APD Officer Walter Dodds sexually assaulted a woman he first came into contact with during a job-related incident. He has not been charged in the case.
According to a search warrant affidavit, Dodds reported to the scene of an attempted suicide on April 18, where he met the woman. After the person who was reportedly threatening themselves was taken to the hospital out of concern for their safety, the accuser was interviewed by Dodds.
APD says that the officer can be heard on body-worn camera asking her if she was going to lock the door to her apartment. When she answered no, the audio reportedly indicates that Dodds replied: “What if someone sneaks in there? You don’t want to be sleeping with some dude in there with you.”
Then, on April 29, the APD Sex Crimes Unit received a disturbing phone call from the woman, according to the search warrant affidavit.
In the call, she explained to the Sex Crimes officer that she’d received multiple inappropriate phone calls from Dodds after the April 18 incident, during one of which, she claims, Dodds asked if he could come over and whether she would “take off his uniform.”
Then, she says she passed out, due to being “super intoxicated.” She says she was awoken by a man she identified as Dodds sexually assaulting her. The woman says he was in full police uniform and believed he was wearing his duty belt — details she said she “remembers perfectly,” according to the search warrant affidavit.
During the woman’s forensic interview, a young family member who was at the home at the time corroborated her story, saying that he also saw a man in a police uniform go into the victim’s bedroom and close the door. The family member said that when the man left, she was distraught and that her hair was “crazy-looking.”
Due to the nature of the accusations and the fact that the woman claims DNA evidence was left at the scene, APD obtained a DNA search warrant — which resulted in Dodds having to submit a saliva sample.
Dodds has been with APD since December 2017 and is assigned to patrol in northeast Austin. He has been placed on restricted duty during the investigation.
Rebecca Bernhardt, who sits on the Public Safety Commission, has questions about whether Dodds has been investigated previously and why he remains employed by APD.
“I’m interested why he’s on restricted duty and on duty at all,” Bernhard said. “I’d be interested in hearing Chief Manley’s answer to that question.”
Jerry Stanton, a retired APD officer, said it’s important that all of the facts in the case come to light before anyone passes judgement. He said there may be a reason why Dodds remains on the payroll during the investigation.
“It’s not unusual at all to put an officer on restricted duty where he’s not doing any kind of police work, he’s having no contact with the public, but he’s still contributing to the overall benefit of the department,” Stanton said.