Jury reaches verdict in one day in federal lawsuit against Harlingen by former Asst. Chief

A federal jury in Cameron County has just reached a verdict and sided with the city of Harlingen in a lawsuit filed by former Assistant Police Chief Luciano Rubio.

Rubio claimed he was unfairly demoted from the police department's assistant chief position back in August 2010.

Luciano Rubio said in his experience at the police department, employees are given a reason when demoted or terminate, which is usually based on performance issues or misconduct.

Rubio claimed he had neither.

Defense attorney Joe Hernandez argued because the assistant chief position is appointed, it is not protected under civil service code and Rubio served at the pleasure of the police chief.

Harlingen City Attorney Hernandez also argued that then - Chief Daniel Castillo did not need to give Rubio a reason.

However, in court today, Hernandez stated that the city felt Rubio had been complacent after eight years as assistant chief and that he should return to his previous rank as a captain so someone else could fill the job.

Castillo, who is now a city commissioner, testified while he did meet with Rubio to discuss the demotion, he did not officially remove Rubio till the following week.

Castillo also testified he needed the city commissioners to allow the police department an extra captain into their budget or else it would create a 'ripple effect' where the ranks of other employees would be affected.

Rubio's attorney, David Joe, said when Castillo met with then-Interim City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez, City Commissioner Jerry Prepejchal was also present, which would violate a city charter because personnel issues are only to be discussed with the city manager's office.

Joe also pointed out a "very concerning discrepancy between testimony given by Gonzalez and a statement given by Castillo.

Then Interim City Manager Gonzalez claimed that personnel meeting was called by Castillo, but Preprechal happened to walk in.

However, Castillo's affidavit claims Preprejchal called the meeting to discuss concerns he had received about the supervision at the Harlingen Police Department.

This trial was expected go throughout the week, but the entire trial and jury deliberation took place in just one day. The six jurors TM decision was made in favor of the city of Harlingen.