FSO drops complaint against Fowler city manager

Local business owner maintains Tucker assaulted her because of her criticism of city politics

Fowler City Hall from sidewalk along S. Fifth St. (Kenny Goodman)
Fowler City Hall from sidewalk along S. Fifth St. (Kenny Goodman)
Darren Fraser
Published January 5, 2024  • 
9:00 am

FOWLER – Following an investigation into an alleged assault by the Fowler city manager against a Fowler resident, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office (FSO) found there was no basis for the claim and dismissed all charges.

On Oct. 3, 2023, Zaida España, who owns España and Associates Insurance Services in Fowler, accused Fowler City Manager Wilma Tucker of assaulting her outside of Fowler City Hall. A council meeting was scheduled for that day.

España said after the council meeting, Tucker grabbed her by the arm and took her aside. She said Tucker was upset with her for bringing up issues such as misconduct, nepotism and favoritism at city hall. She added that Tucker and members of the council are upset with her for repeatedly broaching unpleasant topics at council meetings.

“She took me to a dark corner of the building and, basically, threatened me and said she wouldn’t allow me to speak to (city) employees,” said España. She said others witnessed Tucker grabbing her by the arm.

España said she sent a letter to the city council reporting the incident. The purpose of the letter was to inform the council that Tucker’s behavior was unprofessional and unacceptable. After sending the letter to the council, España said she was subjected to harassment and intimidation.

“I prefer not to go into that because I am still considering taking legal action against the city,” she said.

FSO DECLINES TO PURSUE CHARGES

FSO spokesman Tony Botti said the department determined España’s complaint lacked merit.

“We concluded an investigation a while ago into an alleged battery where Wilma Tucker was named as the suspect,” Botti said. “It was ruled to be unfounded; meaning, no crime occurred. The district attorney (DA) is not filing charges.”

Botti said FSO does not issue copies of its reports. With respect to this case, since the DA did not file any criminal charges, there are no documents for review.

España said despite witnesses coming forward to confirm the incident, FSO referred the matter back to the city of Fowler.

“I told him (FSO lead detective) I got a letter from the city basically exonerating her,” said España. “I asked if that’s what he found and he said, ‘Not necessarily.’” 

She went on to say the detective completed his investigation and told her it was the city’s decision to move forward with the complaint.

“You’re telling me you’re ultimately going to turn it over to the person who committed the assault to decide if she did something right or wrong?” España asked the detective.

“He said, ‘That’s how the process goes,’” España said.

DECEMBER 19 COUNCIL MEETING

As reported by GV Wire, Tucker and Fowler City Attorney Scott Cross addressed the issue during the Fowler City Council Meeting on Dec. 19.

“The findings are a relief to me,” said Tucker. “I knew what they were going to be. It was a big distraction. It’s embarrassing to me that we have to go through this.”

According to the GV Wire article, the Fowler Police Department recused itself from the investigation and handed it over to FSO. Cross said this was done to maintain impartiality.

Cross added, “A preponderance of the evidence does not support a finding that Miss Tucker physically grabbed and pulled Miss España in an abrasive manner. Any touching that may have occurred was not an intentional and lawful use of force intended to cause harm to Mrs. España.”

España also complained to the city about Yvonne Hernandez, who is the supervisor of the city’s senior center. España’s complaint against Hernandez was not described.

At the meeting, Hernandez said, “When you have God with you, you are unmoved.” The Times reached out to Hernandez for comment but she directed all questions to the city manager.

In an email to the Times, Cross said, “I am not authorized to make any further comments on this matter beyond my comments during the Dec. 19th Fowler City Council meeting.”

Tucker did not respond for comment.

Darren Fraser
Reporter