Galveston councilman answers police chief's slander suit, says statements were true

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Apr. 27, 2011, 10:36am


GALVESTON – Galveston City Councilman Chris Gonzales asserts the allegedly defamatory statements he made about Galveston Police Chief Charles Wiley were substantially true, recent court documents say.

Wiley filed a $1 million slander suit against the councilman on Feb. 24 in Galveston County Court at Law No. 2 after Gonzales claimed the police chief had been arrested twice while serving as a Galveston police officer more than 30 years ago and that he had shot a man in the back.

The police chief argues that he has never been arrested and did not shoot anyone in the back. He states that one time when Galveston police disrupted an alleged armed robbery he fired into the leg of a man who was in the process of committing multiple assaults.

In Texas, to prove defamation the plaintiff must show the defendant communicated verbally (slander) or in writing (libel) false allegations against the plaintiff which were defamatory, false and without regard to the truth; referred specifically to the plaintiff; acted with actual malice, negligence, or is strictly liable as a matter of law. The plaintiff must show he suffered possible pecuniary injury or that the false statements by the defendant injured his reputation in his office, profession or occupation.

Wiley contends Gonzales "knew the statements were false and incomplete."

In his original answer submitted on March 21, the councilman states that Wiley presents himself as a public figure, therefore his character and fitness for office as the chief of police are matters of public concern.

Gonzales also claims that it is both his right and obligation as a member of the city council to review the operations of the Galveston Police Department and others, to form opinions on the department and its leadership and to express those opinions to the public at large.

Attorney Charles E. Soechting of San Marcos is representing Wiley.

Olson & Olson LLP is representing Gonzales.

The case has been assigned to Galveston County Court at Law No. 2 Judge Barbara Roberts.

Cause No. 64,768

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