Status of San Benito officers, chief still unclear six months after fatal shooting

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Ricardo Trevino III's mother, April, crying at his grave by KVEO Derick Garcia.

City officials in San Benito have yet to clarify the status of their former police chief and five officers involved in the fatal shooting Dec. 7 of unarmed Ricardo Treviño III.

The Texas Rangers are also investigating the circumstances of the shooting, which followed a car chase on Interstate 69 and U.S. 281. Treviño, 21, of San Benito, recorded the 12-minute chase.

The South Texas town replaced Police Chief Michael Galvan with interim chief Fred Bell, but neither Galvan’s attorney nor City Manager Manuel De La Rosa would confirm whether Galvan remains on paid administrative leave, according to a story by the Valley Morning Star, the newspaper in nearby Harlingen. 

Officers told the Morning Star that Galvan has not been seen at police department offices since the internal investigation into the shooting was completed June 5. Galvan is, however, continuing to serve as the city’s emergency management coordinator, according to the newspaper.

Bell ordered one of the officers involved in the shooting suspended for five days but did not identify him, according to the story. Two of the five officers, also not identified, might face “significant disciplinary action” for using deadly force at the conclusion of the chase, the story said.

City officials have not revealed whether any of the officers investigated for their roles in the chase — Manuel Alvarez, Victor Espitia, Oscar Lara, David Rebolledo and Jose Santos — remain with the department, are on paid leave, or are suspended, the story said.

“As soon as I get all the findings, if I have to hold someone accountable, I’ll hold someone accountable,” San Benito Mayor Ben Gomez told the Morning Star.

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