ALAMO — The Alamo Board of Commissioners in a narrow vote Monday fired Police Chief Baudelio Castillo, ending a monthslong dispute between Castillo and the city’s top officials who wanted him gone.
The special meeting on Monday was called following a Friday decision by State District Judge Marla Cuellar that essentially green-lit city leadership to move forward with any action against Castillo. Cuellar dismissed the chief’s claim, made in a lawsuit he filed in December, that the city leadership violated various state laws when it sought to fire him.
Perhaps chief among those who wanted Castillo out was Mayor Diana Martinez, who, after the board of commissioners met in executive session for about 30 minutes, tried to quickly call for a vote and get the meeting over with. But first, Commissioner Trino Medina took the floor and listed “what the chief has accomplished over time,” listing various investigations, drug busts, community involvement, law enforcement partnerships and other moves that Medina said were positive for Alamo.
“Let him speak, mayor. Why are you hiding?” Medina said at one point.
At another point, Francisco J. Rodriguez, the attorney for Castillo, spoke briefly and compared Martinez’ actions to President Trump, who he said sought to obstruct justice during the investigation of his 2016 presidential campaign by special counsel Robert Mueller.
But the efforts were not enough to block Martinez and two other commissioners from voting to fire Castillo and appoint two interim leaders at the police department, who will split responsibilities at the department.
The move by Martinez and city leadership comes after Castillo had opened investigations into various city employees and top officials, including Martinez and Mayor Pro Tem Robert De La Garza, who initially placed an item on a December meeting agenda to terminate the chief. Castillo quickly followed that up by filing a restraining order, which Cuellar addressed on Friday.
“What we’re contending is that because the chief of police has initiated, conducted and is prosecuting some criminal violations by certain city officials, they have retaliated by dismissing him,” Rodriguez said after the meeting, adding that he plans to quickly file suit in state court.
While Martinez got her preferred outcome at Monday’s meeting, she struggled to maintain control over the commission chambers after the board of commissioners returned from the 29-minute executive session. People constantly talked loudly over one another, commissioners blurted out, a few people from the audience spoke up and Rodriguez attempted to give brief remarks. After the vote, Martinez quickly gaveled to adjourn the meeting after less than 10 minutes of open session.
She then shuffled out of city hall, shaking hands and declining comment.