ALAMO — The mayor was forced to table an agenda item discussing the termination of the city’s police chief during Tuesday evening’s board of commissioners meeting after the chief secured a temporary restraining order against the city.
Police Chief Baudelio Castillo filed the TRO in district court Monday evening against Mayor Diana Martinez, Commissioner Robert De La Garza and City Manager Luciano Ozuna Jr., alleging they want him fired because he is “investigating allegations of wrongdoing” on their part.
District Judge Keno Vasquez granted Castillo’s request Tuesday morning and set a hearing for Dec. 28 to determine whether the city should be prevented from taking any action in regards to Castillo’s employment status until there has been a trial or other court action.
The TRO was unknown to many community members, who packed City Hall — some wearing T-shirts that read “I Support Chief Castillo” — to show their support for the chief. Those who spoke during public comment lauded him for reducing crime during his 10-month tenure.
The Alamo Board of Commissioners appointed Castillo as chief in February, and he alleges Martinez, De La Garza and Ozuna are “committing an unlawful employment practice by scheduling (his) termination in retaliation of (his) investigation into (them).”
The TRO alleges that De La Garza “continuously encouraged” Castillo to promote former Sgt. Rodney Guerra, a friend of the commissioner, to the rank of lieutenant.
Castillo, however, suspended Guerra without pay in late October after an internal affairs investigation revealed he stole a pair of Ray Ban glasses from the department, according to the TRO. Guerra was subsequently arrested on a class A misdemeanor theft charge and terminated by the city manager Nov. 2.
The chief launched an investigation against De La Garza for unlawful carrying of a weapon without a license after the commissioner brought Guerra’s badge and weapon to the police department when the chief ordered the sergeant surrender the items following his termination.
The TRO also details two other police investigations against the mayor and city manager for misappropriating city funds by paying former city attorney Damian Orozco to represent two former employees on two separate occasions.
Per the TRO, Orozco represented the former municipal court clerk in a 2014 divorce hearing and more recently, former city secretary Crystal Garza when she was questioned by FBI investigators regarding her “suspected involvement in a federal criminal investigation.” The city terminated Garza after Alamo police arrested her in July on an engaging in organized criminal activity charge for her alleged involvement in a local drug trafficking organization. The chief has charged her with leaking sensitive narcotics information to area drug traffickers.
Castillo alleged that after providing the city manager with a memo on Dec. 13 about the status of these three investigations, Ozuna placed the item to terminate the chief on Tuesday’s meeting agenda.
“Mr. Ozuna usually consults with Mayor Diana Martinez and Robert De La Garza for approval of agenda items,” the TRO stated.
Castillo would not comment on the TRO after Tuesday’s meeting, only saying, “I thank our community for the support they showed tonight. I thank the police officers for showing up and showing the support and the trust they have … We’re going to continue to fight the war against crime.”
He also thanked Mayor Pro-Tem Pete Morales, Commissioner Trinidad “Trino” Medina and Commissioner Maria Del Pilar Garza for their support of the police department.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Medina announced he wanted to transfer $2,500 of his remaining $5,000 in travel funds to the department to be used for training expenses.
“You guys are doing a fantastic job and I am so proud of all of you,” Medina said to Castillo and the police officers in attendance.