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Updated: Friday, 04 May 2012, 8:56 AM MDT
Published : Friday, 04 May 2012, 8:56 AM MDT
LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) - Fourth Judicial District Attorney Richard Flores cited several conflicts of interest in his office prosecuting the case against Mora County Sheriff Thomas Garza, who last month was caught on video fighting with his deputies.
“My office continues to have numerous pending cases with the Mora County Sheriff’s office and so as to assure that those cases proceed forward, it is imperative that we continue to have an ongoing relationship with the Sheriff’s office,” said Flores.
A state police report shows Garza could be charged with battery against a peace officer, a fourth degree felony, after video surfaced of a scuffle between the sheriff and two deputies. On April 7, Garza showed up to the scene of a DWI arrest, investigated by former Dep. Lee Allingham.
According to Allingham, Garza showed up to the scene and was going to let suspected drunk driver Patrick Trujillo walk free. Allingham and fellow Dep. Stephen Mora, who took the recording, insisted Trujillo be transported to the hospital for a blood test. The audio recording shows Allingham and Garza arguing about whether or not Trujillo should be released. Garza is then heard firing Allingham.
Garza told state police he could smell alcohol on Trujillo but wanted to release him to show his deputies he was “boss."
Allingham told investigators that Garza had twisted his arm and got physical. Garza denies those claims.
State police forwarded its report to Flores’ office, who then turned the case over to the Attorney General’s office.
“Mr. Allingham is the son of a Commander within the Las Vegas Police Department and whom we work with on a regular basis,” said Flores. “Sheriff Garza’s wife is the Chief Clerk of the Mora County Magistrate Court. The fact that we work with Ms. Garza and the Mora Magistrate Court on a regular basis, solidifies my decision to conflict this matter to another office.”
A spokesman for Attorney General Gary King said his office had only just received the case and was still in the process of reviewing it.
Trujillo was eventually arrested and taken to the hospital for blood tests.