(Note: This report contains graphic descriptions.)
A Fort Worth police officer has been fired because of allegations that he solicited prostitutes, engaged in sexual conduct while on duty and messaged obscene photographs of himself to others, often identifying himself as a police officer.
Officer Ryan Cantu, who had been with the Fort Worth Police Department since December 2004, was indefinitely suspended as of 6 p.m. Thursday.
His attorney, Terry Daffron Porter with the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, said she believes that her client is being singled out for alleged actions that others in the department have done but for which they were never disciplined or fired.
She points out that Cantu was never charged with solicitation of prostitution.
“You want to know why? Because they can’t prove it,” Porter said. “This investigation has all sorts of red flags.”
She said Cantu will appeal.
According to a disciplinary letter filed Friday with the Civil Service Commission, the department’s special investigation unit began investigating Cantu in February. The letter does not say what prompted the investigation.
Investigators searched Cantu’s cellphone and obtained information that he had been soliciting prostitutes and having sex on duty, the letter states.
Cantu denied soliciting prostitutes or having sex on duty in a May interview with internal investigators. But in a follow-up interview in June, he admitted to having sex on duty Feb. 10 and to soliciting a prostitute, the letter states.
Cantu also allegedly admitted to investigators that he sent a message in December to a female identified as “AshleeTheAmazon” who had advertised sexual services and agreed to meet her for a half-hour of sexual activity in exchange for $60.
Later that month, he exchanged messages with a female known as “FtWorthsFinest” to arrange a sexual encounter, the letter states.
The letter says that when asked by “FtWorthsFinest” to buy a condom before they met, Cantu “explained that he could not buy a condom because he was in uniform.” The two agreed to meet on Yuma Street, with Cantu alerting the woman that he would be in a police car.
Cantu admitted to investigators that he met with the woman while on duty in a parking lot at Echo Lake Park and that the two engaged in touching. He said he gave the woman $25 during the encounter, which he told investigators was for gas.
Porter said the allegations made in the letter are just allegations. She said she knows other officers and a supervisor who have been caught having sex on duty “and there was no investigation and no discipline.”
“You don’t get to pick and choose on this,” she said.
Cantu, according to the letter, also admitted sending and receiving several hundred sexually oriented messages while working as a Fort Worth officer.
“Officer Cantu sent numerous people photographs of his erect penis and, in return, numerous people sent photographs of themselves in sexually explicit poses,” the letter states. “Furthermore, Officer Cantu identified himself as a police officer in several of the messages.”
The letter states that the messages are past the 180-day statute for discipline by the department but were being included for context.
Porter said it is common knowledge that officers send texts and make personal calls while on duty.
“Part of their criticism is he conducted this while he was supposed to be working,” Porter said. “You can’t focus on Cantu and turn your head to the rest of the department. If you’re going to take this position, you need to take this position with every officer and supervisor in this department.”
Porter said she believes that the department is only targeting Cantu because of the content of his messages.
“I think they have become the moral police,” Porter said. “This isn’t my cup of tea, but I’m not going to sit in judgment of him and say, ‘Oh my God! You can’t do that and wear a badge.’”
The letter states that Cantu’s actions show a neglect of duty, lack of good moral character and professional conduct, and untruthfulness in an administrative investigation.
“Some of his actions, many of which occurred while on-duty and expended vast amounts of city time, were related to criminal activity, regardless of whether they occurred on or off duty,” states the letter, signed by Chief Rhonda Robertson. “…Agreeing to exchange money for sexual acts and meeting persons for illegal sexual activity in public in a city park cannot be an acceptable trait of a Fort Worth Police Officer.”
Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655