POTEET, Texas – Multiple former members of the Poteet City Council said they received no information about city administrator candidate Eric Jiminez’s criminal history prior to hiring him for the position in late 2017.
Additionally, Poteet’s city secretary said late last month that a review of Jiminez’s personnel records revealed that there is no background check on file for him.
The apparent lack of vetting of Poteet’s highest ranking employee comes as hours of video and audio evidence gathered by law enforcement against Jiminez has been made public.
“I was screaming, ‘Eric don’t do this!‘”
In late September 2016 Jiminez, at that time a lieutenant with the Seguin Police Department, contacted another supervisor and said he had been involved in an incident with his girlfriend at her home in Cibolo, according to a Texas Rangers report obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders through an open records request.
During the incident Jiminez had repeatedly used his department-issued stun gun to subdue the woman, the report states.
Records show the woman, who KSAT 12 is not identifying because she is a victim of assault, provided a lengthy interview to Seguin Police about the hours-long incident and allowed an officer to photograph her injuries, which included Taser prong cuts and burns on her stomach and chest.
“‘You better not move or say a word, or you’re going to get it again,‘” the woman told Seguin police Jiminez said after Tasering her in a bedroom closet.
An analysis of Jiminez’s stun gun shows that it was used six times over a 34-minute period the night of the domestic incident.
“‘I’m not asking you to surrender. I just think you need to learn your lesson.' And he hit the Taser again,” the woman told police Jiminez said and did that night.
The woman told police and the Texas Rangers that at one point Jiminez forced her to lay down in bed with the Taser prongs still attached to her as he sat in a chair while holding the Taser and drinking alcohol.
“‘You are going to tell them that I was in fear for your life and my life and that’s why you got Tased,‘” the woman claims Jiminez told her as at least one of the Taser prongs was still attached to her.
She told police that she and Jiminez had been drinking late at night and began to argue after he made several derogatory comments about her, according to the Rangers report.
The argument turned physical and the woman stated that she tossed a drawer and several other items to put space between her and Jimenez, according to the report.
She stated that at one point she grabbed two knives and placed a belt belonging to Jiminez around her neck.
Jiminez and Shawn Fitzpatrick, an attorney representing him in his police disciplinary hearing, said Jiminez used the stun gun on the woman only after she swung at him with a knife and appeared to be attempting to hang herself from a clothing rod in the closet.
“Her story doesn’t add up. Her stories don’t add up,” said Fitzpatrick during the recorded hearing.
The woman also repeatedly stated during interviews with law enforcement that she was not attempting to harm herself or take her own life.
The woman claimed in an interview with Seguin police that the last time an argument between them escalated, Jiminez had choked her.
“I know to put my chin down to keep my air, which I was able to do the last time this happened,” the woman told Seguin police.
She also provided Seguin police information about two previous incidents, one at her residence and one during a trip to Austin, in which Jiminez used a closed fist to repeatedly strike her in the back of her head.
“Eric hit me and he hit me in the head so many times. Over and over and over and over again,” the woman told Seguin police, adding that he knew to strike the back of her head because it would disguise bruising.
Records show Jiminez was never criminally charged for either incident.
Days after the woman’s interview with Seguin Police, she agreed to take part in an hours-long videotaped interview with the Rangers at her home during which she walked law enforcement through what happened the night in question.
“‘Please, please, please, just take them out, just take them out,‘” the woman said, as she described to Rangers how she responded after being Tasered. “I was screaming, ‘Eric don’t do this!‘”
Photos from the scene obtained by the Defenders showed a significant amount of blood evidence in the woman’s bed, hallway, kitchen, driveway and on damaged belongings that had been moved to the garage after the incident.
“Cuff my wrists, cuff my ankles. Anything. I will do anything. Just take the Taser out,‘” the woman told Rangers as she described what she said to Jiminez.
The woman can be seen being overcome with emotion several times during the videotaped interview.
She declined to be interviewed for this story and told the Defenders she has worked hard to put the ordeal behind her.
A reduced charge and a plea agreement
Jiminez was arrested in early October 2016 and charged with misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury/family violence, Guadalupe County Jail records show.
Prosecutors had weighed whether to charge Jiminez with a felony but ended up charging him at the misdemeanor level.
The victim, however, stopped cooperating with the investigation by the time she was interviewed by prosecutors, sources said.
In late October 2016, despite his attorney’s argument that Jiminez had not broken the law or department rules during the domestic incident, Jiminez resigned from the Seguin Police Department.
Records reviewed by the Defenders for this story show that Jiminez was also given a dishonorable discharge from the department.
In April 2017, the criminal charge against Jiminez was reduced to a lower level misdemeanor assault by contact as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Jiminez was fined $500, given six months probation, ordered to have no contact with the victim and was required to surrender his peace officer’s license, court records show.
In October 2017, records show Jiminez completed the terms of his probation and the charge was dismissed by a judge.
Guadalupe County Attorney David Willborn provided the following written statement about the criminal case against Jiminez:
The case against former Seguin PD Lieutenant Eric Jiminez was originally brought to the office of the 25th Judicial District Attorney (which has since been legislatively dissolved and the duties of which have been granted to the Guadalupe County Attorney’s Office) for felony consideration under the Assault statute based on allegations of several family violence assaults taking place within a prescribed period of time. That case was rejected by that office and forwarded to my office for consideration under the class A Misdemeanor of Assault causing Bodily Injury - Family Violence. We accepted the case and charged it as such, notwithstanding a stated desire by the victim to drop charges. As time passed, it became clear that, even though we were confident that the Family Violence Assault had taken place, there were several barriers to prosecution that would have made it very difficult for the State to prevail. While justice for victims is generally paramount in prosecution, this case posed additional risk to society - namely that the Defendant used police-issued equipment to commit the assault. For that reason, I couldn’t dismiss the case outright in good conscience. I elected to proceed with the lesser included Assault by Contact with the explicit condition that Mr. Jiminez forfeit his Peace Officer’s license prior to his plea of guilty.
What did Poteet city leaders know about Jiminez?
Jiminez did not respond to multiple emails seeking comment for this story.
Records provided by Poteet officials show that he was given a three-year contract that runs until December 2020 and pays him more than $65,000 a year to run the day-to-day operations of the city.
The contract was amended in February 2019 to give Jiminez a three-percent pay increase, records show.
In addition to benefits including cell phone and mileage reimbursements, the city sets aside $5,000 a year for Jiminez’s business travel and another $5,000 a year to pay for his professional development courses and seminars.
Nicholas Sanchez, the only current Poteet city council member who was also on the council when Jiminez was hired, declined to comment via telephone last month.
Sanchez asked that questions about the hiring of Jiminez be sent via email so that his “words wouldn’t be twisted.”
Sanchez did not respond to the email seeking comment.
Reynaldo Anzaldua, a former Poteet city council member who left his term a year early in May 2018, said Jiminez’s criminal record was not known to the council at the time of his hiring.
“Our assumption at the council level was that the city had a background check process in place because there was a background check for other employees that were hired for the water department, for utilities, that kind of thing. So our assumption was that they would do that for that individual. Later on, we found that it wasn’t. And for what reason, I don’t know,” said Anzaldua.
Another former council member, Estella Rocha, agreed to speak with the Defenders via telephone and said last month that she and the other elected officials were not aware of the criminal case against Jiminez.
“Unfortunately, none of that came up when we were hiring him,” said Rocha, who added that she played a minimal role in Jiminez’s hiring because of a medical issue at the time.
Another former council member, Susanna Perez, and former mayor Albert Trevino could not be reached for comment.
Another council member who was in office at the time of Jiminez’s hiring has since passed away, a family member confirmed.
Anzaldua said the significant amount of information now public about the case could impact whether Jiminez continues working for the city.
“With that out, that will change the dynamics, I think, in my opinion, because those are some serious allegations,” said Anzaldua.
Since the case against Jiminez had been adjudicated by the time of his hiring, it is likely that evidence gathered by law enforcement against him would have been released upon request.