The city of Mission is asking that a judge sign a protective order prohibiting the family of the man who killed a Mission police officer in 2019 from sharing documents the judge ordered the city to turn over to the family with anyone.
Additionally, the city says Texas Government Code only allows it to make the information available for public inspection rather than providing the family with the actual information.
The city is asking clarification from state District Judge Fernando Mancias, who ordered the city on Tuesday to turn the information over, on whether it has to turn the information over to the family or only make it available for inspection at an agreed upon time and location.
“As such, Respondent City of Mission will provide Petitioners and their attorney with the information to be disclosed, as per the Court’s December 15, 2020 ruling, through an inspection of said information by Petitioners and their attorney, upon notice, at a mutually agreed upon time and location,” the proposed protective order states.
The filing came a day after Mancias’ order and was amended Thursday in the latest development in the case of a petition filed by the parents of Juan Carlos Chapa Jr., who shot and killed Mission Cpl. Jose Espericueta on June 20, 2019.
Chapa was also shot and killed by Mission police responding to the violent encounter.
The family filed a Texas Public Information Act request with the city for the investigative case file in August and in October, their attorney, Horacio Peña, filed the petition seeking a court order to compel the city to turn the requested information over.
The requested information included the autopsy report, toxicology report, ballistics report, medical notes and reports, ambulance reports and notes, investigative reports, recordings made by the public, photos and other recordings made by the Mission Police Department, and recordings from security cameras at the Mission Bell RV Park/Resort where the shooting took place.
In response, the city of Mission requested a Texas Attorney General’s opinion and cited three exemptions to the Texas Public Information Act, including that the information requested details the detection, investigation or prosecution of a crime; that the information is highly intimate or embarrassing; and that the information includes a private citizen’s vehicle title or registration and date of birth.
The AG sided with the city of Mission, but on Tuesday — following a Friday court hearing on the matter — Mancias, the judge, ruled in favor of Chapa’s parents.
“It clearly appears that no information regarding this matter will ever result in a conviction or a deferred adjudication sentence,” Mancias wrote in his ruling.
In the city of Mission’s latest motion, the municipality says that during the course of the litigation it has become apparent that certain documents and information should be protected from public disclosure and used for any purpose other than to inform and enlighten Chapa’s parents about what happened on June 20, 2019.
“As the Court is aware, the nature of the information that is being requested by the Petitioners involves the death of Officer Jose ‘Speedy’ Espericueta and most, if not all, of the requested information is of a highly sensitive nature that should not be disseminated or disclosed to any other person or entity other than those who have been allowed by this Court to review such information,” the motion says.
In order to prevent having the information disclosed to the public, the city of Mission asked for a protective order. The city is also asking that Chapa’s parents only be allowed to inspect the information, not possess it.
According to the city of Mission, this would be in line with Texas Government Code.
“Reiterated numerous times before this Court, the events of June 20, 2019 greatly effected (sic) two families within this community. However, just as one family wishes to delve further into the facts and circumstances regarding this case, another wishes to retain some degree of privacy to protect the sensitive nature of a tragedy that they also live with everyday,” the motion states.
Should the judge grant the proposed protective order, the city of Mission is asking that any violations of the order result in monetary sanctions.
As of end of business day Thursday, a hearing had not been scheduled in the matter, records show.