San Antonio fire chief takes heat for posing in photo eating sushi off nude model

SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio’s city attorney is conducting an investigation after the city’s fire chief was photographed eating sushi displayed on a mostly nude woman.

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The photograph, which was published Thursday in the San Antonio Express-News, shows San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood kneeling next to the woman, who was lying on a table, while at a private party in January. Hood, who was not in uniform, was attending firefighter Shody Henshaw’s 50th birthday party, KSAT reported.

Hood on Friday defended his actions, calling it “more or less a family event," the Express-News reported.

“You walk in the front door and there’s a sushi lady there that I guess is a business, so I stopped and posed and take a picture. That’s it,” Hood told the newspaper. “It would be like me taking a picture with a flamenco dancer in Vegas or a Spurs dancer at Top Golf where the Spurs dancers happen to be there.”

Hood later apologized in a statement sent later Friday to KSAT.

“I attended a firefighter’s 50th birthday party in January,” Hood, who has been San Antonio’s fire chief since 2007, said in the statement. “This photo was taken at the front entrance to the party. I certainly didn’t intend to offend anyone, and if I did, I sincerely apologize."

City Manager Erik Walsh said in a statement that he is directing the city attorney to conduct an “independent review” of the incident.

“I have directed the City Attorney to conduct an independent review of all the facts and circumstances involving the photograph and the event," Walsh said. “This is a serious issue and I’ll take whatever action is warranted. We all have to be aware that our actions outside of the workplace -- good, bad or otherwise -- reflect on our entire organization.”

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg told reporters Friday that he supported Walsh’s investigation.

“The scene in that photo is counter to the standards and values that we expect from the city of San Antonio organization. I am supportive of the city manager’s call for an investigation,” Nirenberg said. “What was in that photo is clearly counter to what we expect from the values of this organization. I was made aware of it late (Thursday) night. I was made aware of the investigation (Friday) morning.”

Serving sushi on a naked woman, otherwise known as “body sushi” or “naked sushi,” is part of the Japanese practice of nyotaimori, according to The Associated Press.