By Moses Leos III
For the second time in a year, the city of Kyle has levied an indefinite suspension ruling against Jesse Espinoza, according to the lawyer representing the former Kyle Police sergeant.
The ruling came after an independent investigator, Chuck Edge, submitted his final investigative report on new allegations of misconduct against Espinoza on Sunday.
As a result of the investigation of Espinoza, Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett was placed on administrative leave, which was a “procedural move,” according to Kyle Communication Specialist Kim Hilsenbeck. She said the move was done to avoid the “potential of any impropriety in the case.”
Kyle Police Captain Pedro Hernandez assumed the role of interim police chief at 12:01 a.m Monday and adjudicated the case. Barnett was reinstated as Kyle Police chief Monday afternoon.
Grant Goodwin, lead attorney for the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas, who is representing Espinoza, said Hernandez’s ruling was made after new allegations of insubordination and perjury were made against his client.
The allegation of perjury, according to Goodwin, stemmed from the city’s claims of a possible inconsistent statement Espinoza had in his indefinite suspension arbitration testimony in September 2015.
Goodwin believed the ruling was “clear retaliation” and that the new allegations were a “personal vendetta by members of the Kyle City Council.”
Goodwin, however, declined to comment on which council members he was referring to.
In May 2015, Espinoza was placed on indefinite suspension following a city investigation completed by an outside firm.
The investigation contended Espinoza engaged in acts of insubordination and untruthfulness relating to his relationship with Glen Hurlson, a doctor from Louisiana.
Hurlston filed a civil rights lawsuit against Barnett, the city of Kyle and Barnett’s former employer, the Princeton Police Department in January 2014. Hurston claimed the departments were liable for “clothing” Barnett with state authority to harass and threaten him with arrest while he was having an affair with Hurlston’s wife during his tenure as Princeton Police Chief.
The lawsuits against both cities were dismissed “with prejudice” and aren’t subject to appeal.
Espinoza appealed his indefinite suspension ruling; an arbitration hearing was held September 2015.
A ruling on the appeal, however, was not finalized as the hearing examiner in the case passed away. According to a city official, a new hearing examiner will be found to take the case, which will restart from the beginning.
In March, Kyle City Manager Scott Sellers appointed Hernandez to take the interim police chief role once the investigation into new allegations of misconduct against Espinoza were submitted.
Goodwin said nothing Espinoza “has ever done has aided Hurlston’s lawsuit.”
He added Espinoza’s actions were to “try to bring to light what he felt were improper actions within the department.”
“It’s just one of the most blatant examples to bully someone through the process I’ve seen,” Goodwin said. “And it’s not a well run investigation.”