Donna police chief suspended after complaint filed; officials mum on details

Gilbert Guerrero, left, stands outside of Donna City Hall on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, as a handful of residents protest his recent firing over what they claim is political retaliation. (Dina Arévalo | [email protected])
Only have a minute? Listen instead
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Donna Police Chief Gilbert Guerrero has been placed on suspension pending an investigation into a complaint against him.

Sgt. Adrian Hooks confirmed the chief’s suspension on Wednesday, adding that city administrators named him interim chief until the investigation into the complaint Guerrero is completed.

However, Hooks, who prior to now, served as the leader of the department’s criminal investigative division, declined to provide additional details, including the nature of the complaint against Guerrero.

“He is under suspension, however, any details of that would have to be through… the city manager’s office,” Hooks said.

However, Hooks said Donna police are not investigating the complaint in-house.

For obvious reasons, the city has made the decision to have an outside agency investigating the allegations, so we don’t know any details of the allegations,” he said.

Donna Mayor David Moreno also declined to comment, other than to confirm that Guerrero is being investigated and that Hooks has been named the interim chief in his stead.

“Please reach out to city manager (Carlos) Yerena as he is fielding any media questions regarding this incident,” Moreno said via text message.

Yerena confirmed that Guerrero has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of a complaint lodged by a city employee, but declined to say if that employee is one of the chief’s subordinates.

“At this point, there’s really not much I can comment on it because it’s an ongoing investigation,” Yerena said. “We take all complaints seriously and we are going to investigate it.”

Calls to Guerrero did not go through.

This isn’t the first time Chief Guerrero has landed in hot water.

In June 2022, Donna officials fired Guerrero after allegations that he failed to appropriately respond to a school shooting threat that happened the same week of the Uvalde school massacre.

Donna Police Chief Gilbert Guerrero and other law enforcement agencies during a press conference at the Donna Police Department on Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Donna. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

At the time, Sgt. Hooks had received a tip that two juveniles were planning to carry out a school shooting. The tip turned out to be credible, and the teens were arrested in late-May 2022.

Authorities also confiscated an AK-47 during the investigation.

A few days later, then-interim City Manager Frank Perez fired Guerrero for allegedly failing to act, but never questioned the chief over what took place.

Affidavits from other officers who were in the room at the time Guerrero allegedly dissuaded Hooks from investigating the threat appear to contradict the dereliction of duty allegations.

And Guerrero’s termination quickly led to public outcry from Donna residents insisting he be put back on the job.

Ten days after terminating Guerrero, Perez reversed course and announced he was reinstating the police chief.

Former Donna Police Chief Gilbert Guerrero, far left, waits to see if he will be reinstated on Thursday, June 16, 2022. (Dina Arévalo | [email protected])

Though he got his job back, Guerrero claimed the incident had been political retaliation for pushing back against naming a former Donna ISD police officer as the city’s assistant chief.

Guerrero alleged that that man, Ambrosio Francisco “Frank” Limon, had close ties to Moreno, who works as an administrator within the school district.

“(It’s) politically motivated by David Moreno and it all comes back to when I refused to hire Frankie Limon as assistant chief,” Guerrero told The Monitor in 2022.

Prior to firing the chief in June, Perez had also suspended Guerrero a few months earlier, in March, for a week with pay. The chief claimed that decision had been the first instance of retaliation over pushing back on hiring Limon.

Moreno, who was then just a city councilman, supported Perez’s decision to terminate the chief, but dismissed Guerrero’s allegations of retaliation. Instead, his only concern had been about the public’s safety if Guerrero had dismissed a credible threat.

“That’s inexcusable, ma’am. People that are defending the chief and what he did, they’re defending something that is indefensible,” Moreno said then.