A Victoria County constable accused of sexually assaulting a woman while on duty will be the subject of a report at Monday’s commissioners meeting.
Commissioners will discuss whether there are any avenues through which the court could remove the officer from his position. At Monday’s meeting, the county’s top elected officials will hear a report from legal counsel on “the process for the removal of an elected official, related to Jesse Garza, Constable Precinct 1,” according to the meeting agenda.
Garza was charged last year with felony sexual assault and misdemeanor official oppression. The elected law enforcement officer has kept his job, and his salary, while facing the criminal charges.
Garza’s peace officer license was suspended by a state agency Feb. 5 after the agency was notified of the indictments against him. Garza was ordered to return his county-owned patrol vehicle shortly after his license was suspended.
“We had been previously advised that there was nothing the commissioners court could do,” County Judge Ben Zeller said in an interview. “However, with his (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement) license now suspended, he’s legally unable to fulfill the duties of his office. So we want to ensure that we have the right information of what we’re able to do.”
Zeller said commissioners would learn whether Garza can be removed from office and, if so, how that process would work.
Garza, 38, did not respond to a request for comment Friday. He faces between two and 20 years in prison with a $10,000 fine if convicted.
In addition to the report about the options that are legally available to the commissioners court, residents of Precinct 1 are expected to voice their opinions on the matter, Commissioner Danny Garcia said. The area Garcia represents includes Bloomington and Placedo.
“Everybody is innocent until proven guilty,” Garcia said. “There are people in favor of letting the legal system run its course and people that are ready to move forward and get somebody in place that can do the work. We’re going to allow the topic to be open to discussion.”
A Victoria woman said Garza sexually assaulted her during a ride-along in his patrol vehicle in 2017, according to affidavits. The woman detailed her account in a letter sent to the Victoria County district attorney’s office, which prompted an investigation by the Texas Rangers.
Since that investigation, some residents have complained that Garza has simply stopped responding to calls or doing his job.
Zeller said Monday’s discussion will include whether the county should hire an off-duty peace officer to serve the legal papers and notices that are typically the responsibility of the constable.
Garza’s term expires in 2020.
Also Monday, the court will hear a report detailing the racial breakdown of all individuals stopped and arrested by the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office in 2018, among other agenda items.