Only have a minute? Listen instead
Embattled Donna Police Chief Gilbert Guerrero is back on the job two weeks after he was suspended without pay over a sexual harassment allegation by a former subordinate.
Donna City Manager Carlos Yerena informed Guerrero last Friday that the allegations against him had been unfounded and that he could return to helm the department beginning Monday.
“I got a call from the city manager, Carlos Yerena, that they reviewed the case and they found that there was nothing there. That it was unfounded,” Guerrero said.
“To me, unfounded means there was no evidence,” the chief added.
The city manager suspended Guerrero after receiving a complaint about the chief from a city staffer. However, at the time, the city manager declined to elaborate on the nature of the complaint. He also declined to comment on whether the complainant worked for the police department.
This week, Guerrero confirmed that the complaint had come from a woman who had served as a case worker for the department prior to a recent transfer to another city department.
The chief further stated that he was told the complaint involved an allegation of sexual harassment, but was provided no additional details, even after he asked for a copy of the complaint against him.
“I asked for a copy of the report and they didn’t give it to me. But that’s fine. I knew they had to investigate and they did,” Guerrero said. “But it was something that it shouldn’t have come to this.”
The Monitor filed a Texas Public Information Act request seeking copies of the complaint against Guerrero, as well as records of any disciplinary action taken against him, and his most recent performance evaluation.
But to date, the city has not produced any records responsive to the request. And messages left with the city manager have gone unanswered.
Guerrero blames his suspension and what he characterized as spurious and “baseless” allegations to the kind of political machinations that Donna, the so-called “Heart of the Valley,” has become known for.
“It’s just a political attack against me. It’s the same individuals, same parties, there in Donna that are doing the same things,” Guerrero said.
The chief’s refrains echo similar sentiments he shared in 2022, when he was first suspended, then briefly fired, by then-interim City Manager Frank Perez over two separate allegations of professional misconduct that wound up being similarly discredited.
In the first instance in March 2022, Guerrero claims that Perez suspended him for pushing back on hiring a former Donna ISD police officer as assistant chief, whom Guerrero claims has close ties to Donna Mayor David Moreno.
At the time, Moreno, who works as an administrator at the school district, was a city councilman.
Several months later, in June 2022, Perez fired Guerrero for allegedly failing to act on a school shooting threat.
That threat occurred the same week as the Uvalde school massacre, where 19 children and two teachers were killed by a lone gunman armed with an assault rifle.
However, Donna police, led by chief investigator Sgt. Adrian Hooks, did respond to the school shooting threat here, and ultimately arrested two teens before any harm could be carried out. Police also confiscated an AK-47 rifle.
Ten days after terminating him, Perez reinstated Guerrero, citing his long career as a law enforcement officer, and “the fact that you enjoy the confidence of your department personnel,” Perez stated in a letter to Guerrero.
It’s that loyalty and the confidence of his officers that motivates Guerrero to get back to work despite the tumultuous political waters that have seen him repeatedly ousted from his hometown police department.
“I owe my officers a lot. I’ve got a good group of guys — men and women there — that I want to help them out. I want to better their careers,” Guerrero said.
He said he tells his officers to “keep their heads up” and that the kind of turmoil he has endured as their chief is just part of the “political machine” in Donna.
But the chief was also defiant in the wake of his reinstatement.
“Next time … they better bring an army, ‘cause I’m still standing after this hit. And I’m still gonna stand after this,” Guerrero said.
And though this isn’t the first time the chief has faced scrutiny, Guerrero said this most recent attempt to oust him has caused him the most pain, saying there was “malicious intent” involved and that his reputation was “run through the mud.”
“On this one, I took it harder than the other ones. Because this one, it affected my wife, my family, my dad, my brothers, my friends, my colleagues, everybody. My law enforcement friends, all the chiefs,” Guerrero said.
“There was doubt. I know for two weeks there was doubt,” he said.
Guerrero added he is considering taking legal action against his accuser.