Family of man who killed Mission PD officer suing for information

Juan Carlos Chapa Jr.

The family of the man who killed Mission Police Cpl. Jose Luis Espericueta is suing the city of Mission and the Hidalgo County district attorney for information about what occurred that day.

The family of Juan Carlos Chapa Jr., who also died in the incident on June 20, 2019, filed a lawsuit against the city and Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez on Oct. 5 in an effort to get them to turn over information they requested.

The requested information includes the autopsy report, toxicology report, the ballistics report, hospital/doctor/nurses notes and reports, ambulance reports/notes, investigative reports, recordings made by the public, photos and other recording made by the Mission police department, and recordings from security cameras at the Mission Bell RV Park/Resort where the shooting took place.

An attorney representing the family, Horacio Peña Jr. who previously served as a municipal judge in Mission, officially requested the information from the city and the District Attorney’s office on Aug. 10.

On Aug. 25, the city responded by stating it was asking for an opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s office on whether the information can be withheld. The district attorney’s office responded on Sept. 2 that it was also seeking an opinion.

In the lawsuit filed by the Chapa family, they challenged the city’s and the DA’s arguments for keeping the information confidential.

The city’s arguments included the requested information deals with “detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime only in relation to an investigation that did not result in conviction or deferred adjudication” and therefore could be withheld from the public.

It also argued that information was legally confidential.

The district attorney’s office echoed the city’s argument that the information dealt with an investigation or detection of a crime. Additionally, they stated that the Public Information Act excluded the “judiciary.”

“Our Office asserts that the Act does not apply to the documents requested, as they are being held on behalf of the judiciary,” the DA’s office stated in their letter seeking an AG opinion. “The documents requested include Grand Jury records actually held by the DA’s Office in the constructive possession of the judiciary.”

However, the family argued that because Chapa was killed in the incident, there was no “detection or investigation.”

With regard to the argument that the information is confidential, the family argued that it is only deemed as such if the information is “highly intimate or embarrassing.” They argue that it is not. They also state that the public has a legitimate concern and interest in knowing what happened.

Rodriguez, the Hidalgo County district attorney, declined to comment until he was officially served with the lawsuit.

The city of Mission stated that it did not comment on litigation.