John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Sep. 6, 2012, 1:30pm

GALVESTON - A Harris County man has filed suit against the city of Clear Lake Shores in response to what he claims was race-based termination, recent court documents say.

A lawsuit filed Sept. 4 in the Southern District of Texas, Galveston Division claims the defendant and its city administrator Paul Shelley fired Robert Garza from his position as peace officer with the Clear Lake Shores Police Department after he refused to resign in light of "fraudulent" allegations against him.

The original petition alleges Garza, a Hispanic male, and other officers of the same ethnicity were discriminated against as opposed to their white counterparts.

According to the plaintiff, Shelley, the former police chief and co-defendant in the suit, met with him on Dec. 20, 2006, to demand he resign "due to an alleged and unspecified policy on Garza's part."

Garza states he resisted Shelley's order, prompting his superior to submit a fraudulent Form F-5 Report of Separation of Licensee which explains that "Garza resigned prior to an internal affairs investigation regarding a policy violation."

The filing resulted in a general discharge for the plaintiff, who reportedly was barred from returning to paid law enforcement and has incurred damages equal to almost seven years of lost wages.

Afterwards, more than "a period of days, weeks, months and eventually years" in which Garza repeatedly sought proof behind the complaint.

A private law firm's outside investigation of the defendants last year, however, revealed that they "had misled and lied to Garza for years," according to the suit.

The suit claims the plaintiff took subsequent action and faced "a hostile work environment so that (Garza) would be compelled to resign" until he was dismissed, adding the defendants mistreated Hispanic applicants and officers just the same.

A white officer apparently replaced Garza, the suit says.

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Paul H. LaValle with the Law Offices of Paul Houston Lavalle & Associates P.C. in Texas City is representing Garza.

Case No. 3:12-cv-253

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