Alamo police chief’s temporary restraining order hearing delayed

The Alamo Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to, among other things, discuss the employment of Alamo Police Chief Baudelio Castillo, but the board was unable to do so after Castillo successfully filed a temporary restraining order against the city and several city officials. (Molly Smith | msmith@themonitor.com)

EDINBURG — The Alamo police chief will have to wait another week to learn whether a judge will uphold the temporary restraining order he filed against the city because a court reporter could not be found Friday to record the proceedings.

Chief Baudelio Castillo filed a temporary restraining order against Mayor Diana Martinez, Commissioner Robert De La Garza and City Manager Luciano Ozuna Jr. on Dec. 17, a day before the Alamo Board of Commissioners was set to discuss whether to terminate him. The order was granted hours before the meeting began, preventing any action from being taken.

The chief, who was only hired in February, charges Martinez, De La Garza and Ozuna with putting the item on the agenda regarding his employment status in “retaliation” “as a result of Plantiff’s (Castillo’s) investigation into the allegations against them.”

The investigations, as detailed by the TRO’s application, include multiple instances on alleged misconduct on their part in their capacities as elected officials and city personnel. These include De La Garza’s unlawful carrying of a weapon without a license when he turned in a suspended police sergeant’s pistol to the police department, and Martinez and Ozuna paying former city attorney Damian Orozco to represent a city employee in a 2014 divorce case and the former city secretary in 2018 during interviews with the FBI, which was regarding her “suspected involvement in a federal criminal investigation.”

“After I started investigations involving city employees and officials, I began to notice retaliatory acts such as routine requests for approval of police training, and trips, and TCLEO (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement) certification pay started getting denied by the City Council,” reads Castillo’s affidavit included in the filing. “The council members who voted no to the police requests were individuals (who) were very good friends with employees who have been charged, arrested or are under investigation for criminal acts.”

His affidavit noted that he has reported “some of the crimes and investigations” to the FBI and Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office.

When 398th state District Judge Keno Vasquez issued Castillo’s TRO on Dec. 18, he set a hearing for Friday in the 275th, the district court in which the case was originally assigned. However, cases there have been routinely heard in the auxiliary courts for the past month as the judge has not been present, and no available court reporter could be found in the courthouse Friday morning to transcribe the proceedings, despite multiple judges being on hand.

The hearing was rescheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 2, at which point a judge will decide whether to dismiss the TRO or extend it and grant an injunction preventing the Alamo Board of Commissioners from removing Castillo, at least until the matter is resolved in a jury trial.

The next board of commissioners meeting is scheduled for Jan. 8. The meeting agenda is not yet available.