A Texas police officer has kept his job after he allegedly gave a homeless man a sandwich containing dog faeces.
Matthew Luckhurst and two other officers on bike patrol were forcing homeless people out of a parking lot in San Antonio on what was believed to be May 6, 2016, enforcing a 'no trespassing' sign.
He says while he was moving the people on, he noticed a pile of litter on the ground including dog droppings, condoms, personal hygiene products and a slice of bread, reports local TV station KSAT.
He admits wrapping the droppings in the bread and placing them in an empty food container, which he placed near one of the homeless people who was asleep. He says the man woke up, picked up the container and handled the 'sandwich' before dropping it once he smelled it.
- US police search dying man's hospital room for weed
- Cops face raft of criminal charges
- Poll: Should New Zealand police officers routinely carry guns?
"You can't be doing that," a fellow officer told Luckurst according to arbitration documents. "You have to go pick that up."
He watched Luckurst cycle back to the parking lot and come back to say he'd thrown out the container, but no one could confirm if he really did.
On October 28, 2016 Luckhurst was notified he'd been dismissed, which his employer had the right to do because it fell within 180 days of the alleged incident.
However Luckhurst later appealed his dismissal because he said the sandwich incident had in fact happened more than 180 days before he was dismissed. After reviewing his medical records, he claimed an injury sustained in a martial arts class meant he was unable to ride a bike from April 6 to June 14, so the incident must have happened before his injury.
An arbitrator overturned his dismissal because it fell outside the 180-day discipline window, as well as the lack of evidence of the incident. No body camera footage was found that corroborated the event and authorities could not find the victim of the prank.
Luckhurst won his appeal and his indefinite suspension was reduced to five days. However the arbitrator said the short punishment was "reasonable based on just cause for Luckhurst's action whether intentionally or grossly inappropriate, regarding the faecal sandwich being placed in a container close to a homeless person".
Many on social media were angry that the officer got to keep his job.
In a bizarre twist, it wasn't Luckhurst's first faecal-related suspension. In December 2016, he and another male officer were accused of defecating in the women's toilet in their bike patrol office and leaving it unflushed.
A suspension document said the two officers "also obtained a brown substance with the consistency of tapioca and spread it on the seat" before bragging about the prank to their colleagues.
"This inappropriate behaviour was done after a female officer requested the women's restroom be kept clean," the report said.
A decision has yet to be made about Luckhurst's second suspension.