Sgt. Joe Harris of the Sandoval County Sheriff's Department was…
Updated: Tuesday, 28 Jul 2009, 11:39 AM MDT
Published : Friday, 24 Jul 2009, 10:40 PM MDT
LA CUEVA, N.M. (KRQE) - Did the Sandoval County Sheriff's Department properly inform its officers that the 'Cookie Bandit' was armed and dangerous?
That's a question being raised after a report surfaced, indicating that the department knew the bandit, Joseph Burgess, shot at one of their own last winter.
Jemez Pueblo's Chief of Police Karl Wiese said he's angry about the death of Sgt. Joe Harris.
"This thing was botched from the get-go," Wiese said. "Joe Harris was my friend. The last seconds of this incident, he reacted and died a hero. But, he didn't have to die."
Wiese said he never saw the report from the Sandoval County Sheriff's Department, which documented an incident where Burgess shot a reserve deputy in the chest.
Luckily, Reserve Deputy Luke Dienlin was wearing body armor.
"I'm really upset that we were never informed about this, because potentially either me or my officers and any other officers working this area, could have been put in danger," Wiese said.
Wiese said he wonders if Harris or his partner ever saw the report. Neither was wearing a bulletproof vest during the stakeout and they had no backup.
Undersheriff Tim Lucero with Sandoval County Sheriff's Department would not grant News 13 an interview, saying only "no comment."
Sandoval County Sheriff John Paul Trujillo didn't return calls seeking comment on Friday. However, he said on Thursday that he didn't know a lot about the shooting, but suggested that Dienlin was not shot at; rather he may have been hit by a stray bullet from a hunter.
Trujillo said investigators could never tie the Cookie Bandit to the incident. Yet, the incident report clearly names "The Cookie Bandit" and goes into great detail about why Dienlin was tracking him.
News 13 has learned that Dienlin, who some describe as a part time bounty hunter, was not a certified police officer and in fact had no police powers.
It's uncertain whether the sheriff's department knew if Dienlin was tracking the Cookie Bandit that night.