Temple Police records released Tuesday describe Cpl. Kenneth Sheka, a former Rookie of the Year arrested on a weapon charge Sept. 8, as a decorated, high-achieving officer who handles stress well.
Sheka is charged with deadly conduct/discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony, after allegedly firing a pistol at an El Paso hotel wall in anger. An arrest affidavit said Sheka was drinking when he made crude, sexual remarks to a female bartender and grabbed her breast before the shooting.
Sheka, 28, is on paid administrative leave while criminal and internal investigations are pending.
The records were released after the Temple Daily Telegram sent an open records request to the city. Initially, Temple officials denied the Telegram’s request for the corporal’s disciplinary records. However, in a letter the city sent Friday to the Attorney General’s office requesting a ruling, the city said it would provide copies of commendations, periodic evaluations by supervisors and information about any discipline imposed on him.
Those copies were emailed Tuesday to the Telegram.
Sheka was named the Temple Police Department’s Rookie of the Year in 2010 and received a unit citation and a commendation award in 2013.
His duties were listed in the provided paperwork as a training officer, intoxilyzer operator, member of the honor guard, SWAT team and negotiator team, academy instructor and accident and crime scene re-constructionist.
Several letters in Sheka’s file referred to his expert handling of an aggravated sexual assault call, his excellent management during an animal control incident involving a pit bull-style dog and his commendable assistance during a civil escort.
A 2014 performance evaluation showed one area that Sheka didn’t meet the standard — his knowledge of department policies and procedures. His rating was “needs improvement.”
“Officer Sheka is very decisive and usually makes good decisions,” the supervisor’s comments said. “Officer Sheka’s overall productivity is slightly lower than the team average. Officer Sheka did receive a letter of reprimand during the evaluation period.”
That letter of reprimand was not included in the documents sent to the Telegram.
Maybe one of the most demonstrative letters was written by then-Police Chief Gary O. Smith on Sept. 11, 2013. In that letter, Smith discussed a situation at Scott & White Memorial Hospital during which an armed man took three nurses hostage because he wanted pain medication. The entry team included Sheka, and that team managed to isolate the area of the emergency room where the incident happened, get two of the hostages released by talking with the gunman and eventually retrieved the handgun from the man. No one was harmed in the incident.
In October 2013, Sheka and other officers performed CPR on a woman to try to save her life after she had a cardiac arrest. Although the woman died, the officers were commended for their efforts and compassion with the woman’s husband during a difficult time.
The bulk of Sheka’s evaluations rated him as satisfactory. One in 2010 said he was proactive and that his confidence level was positively increasing. It noted a citizen commendation about a civil case he handled during his evaluation period. Sheka also received a personal thank you from someone and a visit from a business owner for a building check he did.
The final report done during his probationary period said that he was a “valuable asset to his team.” It said he hadn’t shown any bad characteristics or habits and had no disciplinary issues during his probation. Sheka’s supervisors recommended removing him from probation.
A performance review and development form dated from Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 27, 2012, was provided after he’d been with the Temple Police Department for just over a year.
The supervisor’s comments said that his supervisors had confidence in his field-making decision and that his proactive approach could be increased. The supervisor also said that Sheka had no problems communicating with the public.
Police records described an incident in which a handgun was pulled on Sheka. The comment was that Sheka reacted “in such a way that he was unharmed and also provided responding officers with prudent information while this event was still happening. His actions may have saved his life.”
A 2011 evaluation after he was on the job a year said that Sheka’s supervisors were “confident that he will make the right decision in the field.”
That was an improvement from March 2010, when Sheka’s supervisor wrote that the officer needed to “willingly accept constructive criticism” on his performance.
Sheka was at a 2015 Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas convention in El Paso and was drinking during a hospitality event at the Chase Suite Hotel. After the bartender rebuked his advances, Sheka pulled out his gun, fired it into a wall and started to swing it in the direction of the bartenders, according to the arrest affidavit obtained by the Telegram. The gun was wrestled from him by a bartender and he was taken up to his hotel room by Temple Police Officer Michael Dent, who was also attending the convention.