San Fernando official subject of police investigation
Two San Fernando councilmembers who had been romantically linked have taken out restraining orders against each other after an alleged violent confrontation, city officials said.
Councilman Mario Hernandez and Councilwoman Maribel de la Torre sought the court orders following the June 28 incident, officials said. De la Torre is also the subject of a related police investigation, officials said.
An officer responding to a call at Hernandez’s home last week found the residence had been ransacked and noticed red marks and scratches on the councilman’s neck, according to a police report.
Hernandez sought a restraining order against De la Torre, who responded in kind, officials said. De la Torre accused Hernandez of assaulting her last December, but no police report was filed.
"The only thing I will say is that I have never raised my hand against her at anytime, or any other woman in my life," Hernandez said in a statement Saturday. "It's just not right.
"There is no excuse for that type of behavior. Those that mock this private issue, shame on them because domestic violence is not a laughing matter. For anyone to make false accusations of domestic violence mock victims of this type of abuse."
The story took an unusual twist on Monday, when the City Council, with De la Torre abstaining and Hernandez absent, voted to fire Police Chief Gil Carrillo, who was overseeing the investigation of De la Torre. Carrillo, a retired veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said his firing "came out of left field and it was a shock to him."
In an email to officers and friends, Carrillo said: "I guess it doesn't help matters when one of my detectives is taking a case tomorrow for consideration of a filing against one of the city council members that I would not allow to be swept under the carpet like they had been in the past."
It is unclear how the City Council will proceed in light of the Hernandez and De la Torre incident. But City Administrator Al Hernandez said Friday that the city would be “taking appropriate action” after learning of the restraining orders that were initially reported in the Los Angeles Daily News.
In an email to The Times on Friday, De la Torre explained: "Words cannot begin to express how saddened I am over the events of the past several days." She added " it would be inappropriate to discuss this matter until any potential legal issues are resolved."
Last November, Hernandez, who was mayor at the time and married, shocked the community when he announced at a City Council meeting that he was having an affair with De la Torre. His wife was in the audience.
Adding to the municipal drama, the two council members along with Mayor Brenda Esqueda are the subject of a recall campaign. Some residents have complained that city leaders are turning the city “into a reality show.”
Meanwhile, De la Torre and Hernandez are under court order to stay 100 yards away from each other.
-- Richard Winton