State dismisses domestic violence charge against former police chief

Hidalgo Police Chief Rodolfo “Rudy” Espinoza, center left, sits with his legal counsel at the Law Office of Roberto M. Garcia which includes, from left to right, Simran W. Singh, chief paralegal; Alex Guajardo, associate attorney, and Robert M. Garcia during a news conference Thursday in Edinburg. (The Monitor)

EDINBURG — At the request of the district attorney’s office, a judge Thursday dismissed a misdemeanor assault charge against former city of Hidalgo Police Chief Rodolfo “Rudy” Espinoza.

Hidalgo County Court-at-Law No. 7 Judge Sergio Valdez granted the state’s motion to dismiss, according to his order of dismissal, because “the Court finds that the Defendant completed counseling and anger management.”

Espinoza, 64, was facing one count of assault causing bodily injury to a family member, a class A misdemeanor, stemming from his December 2018 arrest after his girlfriend called 911 on him. She allegedly told sheriff’s deputies Espinoza grabbed her by the neck and pinned her against a wall during a fight about the woman’s attendance at a party in Reynosa, according to the criminal complaint against him.

In the order of dismissal, the judge wrote he “received testimony from the alleged victim indicating she did not want to proceed with this complaint,” and that she had received counseling before signing an affidavit of non-prosecution.

There were no prior domestic violence incidents between Espinoza and the victim, according to to the order.

Espinoza’s attorney, Alex Guajardo, told The Monitor the motion to dismiss was a mutual agreement between his client, his client’s girlfriend and the DA’s office, and that Espinoza satisfied all the prosecutor’s requirements and recommendations.

“It has always been (her) position, and what she has been saying the whole time, that she never intended to press charges,” Guajardo said, adding the argument between the couple was blown out of proportion.

“They intend to continue with their relationship and they want to move past this and hope this (dismissal) will be a step in clarifying what actually took place in that time,” Guajardo said.

The dismissal is also an opportunity for the former police chief to consider legal action against the city, which terminated him days after his arrest, calling it a “violation of certain provisions of the employment contract” in the termination letter City Manager Julian Gonzalez sent him.

Gonzalez did not return a call for comment Thursday.

Espinoza, who had served as the city’s chief since 2012, had been on paid suspension since October 2018 while the city investigated “allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct and potential conflict of interests,” according to the suspension letter.

The city has yet to clarify what those allegations entail and whether that investigation has been completed.

One legal action could be a breach of contract claim, Guajardo said, adding, “We’re looking into all kinds of claims that are relevant to this matter with the city and all other matters.”

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