Hidalgo police chief denies allegations following domestic violence arrest

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 — Hidalgo Police Chief Rodolfo “Rudy” Espinoza denied the domestic violence allegations during a news conference here Thursday afternoon, alleging the probable cause affidavit connected to his arrest last week was factually incorrect.

Sitting alongside his attorneys at the Law Offices of Roberto M. Garcia in Edinburg, Espinosa remained silent while Alex Guajardo, an associate attorney at the law firm, said the probable cause statement was inaccurate and that the victim, Espinoza’s girlfriend, also denies that he assaulted her.

Espinoza’s attorneys provided copies of a signed sworn affidavit that she allegedly provided to them of her own volition.

She could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The probable cause affidavit of his Dec. 27 arrest stated the sheriff’s office was called to a Mission residence, where Espinoza’s common-law wife reported the assault to a deputy.

Espinoza had allegedly “grabbed her by the neck and pinned her against a wall, causing pain but she was still able to breathe,” according to the probable cause affidavit. When she told Espinoza she wanted to leave, he “grabbed her by her left arm, forcing her down to the sofa and pressing down on her chest with both of his hands.”

Her signed affidavit provided by Espinoza’s attorneys, however, stated that she and Espinoza argued in his home in Mission after attending a party in Reynosa, and that she lost her balance and fell onto the sofa and floor as she was grabbing her things. She also stated that Espinoza helped her up and then moved to place his hands on her shoulders to keep arguing, but she told him not to touch her and he removed his hands.

She stated that later as she was making her way to the dining area, she tripped on a suitcase and fell backwards, hitting her head. When asked to leave, she refused to do so, she stated, so he grabbed her from behind in what Espinoza’s attorneys described as a bear hug and removed her from his house.

In the statement, she also clarified that she lives in Reynosa but sometimes stays with Espinoza, whom she referred to as her boyfriend.

“The decision to arrest Chief Espinoza was unlawful and unwarranted by HCSO authorities because (his girlfriend) has made it abundantly clear, both at the scene of the accident and later called the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, that she was not assaulted and did not and does not want to file charges against Chief Espinoza,” Guajardo said during the news conference.

Deputy Jena Palacios-Pacheco, spokeswoman for the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, said the office had no response to the allegations made by Espinoza and that the case would be reviewed and submitted to the DA’s office.

Guajardo added that Espinoza’s girlfriend was meeting with the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office to discuss dropping the charges against Espinoza.

However, he said they were not in contact with her and had no contact information for her.

Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez said she visited the DA’s office on Wednesday, but he wasn’t present at the time and could not comment as to her purpose.

Espinoza is facing a Class A misdemeanor charge of assault causing bodily injury to a family member, according to Palacios-Pacheco.

He was released shortly after he was issued a $5,000 personal recognizance bond by Precinct 5, Place 1 Justice of the Peace Jason Peña last Thursday, the day he was arrested. If convicted, the charge carries up to a year in county jail and up to a $4,000 fine.

Espinoza has served as police chief since 2012 but has been on paid suspension since Oct. 16, 2018.

According to the suspension letter from Hidalgo City Manager Julian Gonzalez, the city is investigating “allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct and potential conflict of interests.”

But his attorneys would not answer questions during Thursday’s news conference about his suspension only to state that he is still the chief.

Prior to serving as the city’s chief, he had been employed by the sheriff’s office since 2005.