Suspended Edinburg police chief sues city for whistleblower violation

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Edinburg Police Chief Cesar Torres (Source: KVEO Photo)

EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) — Edinburg’s chief of police is suing the city after he claims city officials retaliated against him for reporting the conduct of a subordinate officer.

On Wednesday, the lawsuit was filed against the city of Edinburg by Cesar Torres, chief of Edinburg police.

In the lawsuit, Torres claims city manager Ron Garza threatened to fire Torres for reporting an Edinburg police officer for being involved in a criminal conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.

Additionally, Torres states that Garza offered him four options in regards to his termination.

According to the lawsuit, on April 7, Garza told Torres he could resign and gain the opportunity to “write the narrative,” receive two weeks’ worth of pay while Garza and Torres “write the narrative,” have an investigation done to fire Torres, or Garza could simply fire Torres.

Garza offered Torres $59 thousand to resign from his position, said the lawsuit.

Torres turned down these offers on April 12 and was placed on administrative leave by the city on the same day.

These actions from Garza follow an investigation ordered by Torres on a subordinate officer who he says committed criminal acts.

According to the lawsuit, Edinburg PD’s internal affairs department told Torres in September 2020 that an unnamed officer was working with co-conspirators to stage thefts at homes and reporting the items as stolen to insurance companies to claim false benefits.

Although the lawsuit does not name the officer, it does note that this officer was previously fired after being charged of criminal conduct but was reinstated to his position against the orders of Chief Torres.

The original investigator who filed the complaint told Torres he was worried to file the complaint because, according to the lawsuit, the accused officer knows a lot of influential people in Edinburg and feared for his life.

Torres claims he pressed Garza multiple times to investigate the issue but was told “don’t worry about it” and that he did not want the FBI involved in the matter.

Torres alerted the FBI about the issue anyway which Garza was not happy about, according to the lawsuit.

The FBI investigation is still active on this matter.

Torres claims he has suffered stress, insomnia, and anxiety from this situation.

He has sued the city of Edinburg for violating the Whistleblower Act of the Texas Government Code and the Due Course of Law clause under the Texas Constitution.

He is demanding a jury trial and has issued a restraining order against the city. The restraining order prohibits the city from taking any “personal actions” against Torres.

The city of Edinburg has responded to the lawsuit calling Torres’s claims “baseless.”

Officials say Torres was removed after an independent arbitrator found that the chief ruled he discriminated against officers in the Edinburg Police Department.

The city also states that Torres demanded two years’ salary in order for him to resign and that he never made claims of misconduct prior to being asked to resign.

Edinburg officials noted that Torres was given a week to provide a response to his termination and instead filed a lawsuit.

The next step in the lawsuit is the hearing on the temporary restraining order set for May 17.

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