ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The former Albuquerque police officer accused of raping a woman at the Sunport has been found not guilty. The jury came back with a verdict after just three hours of deliberating.
The end of the five-day trial came with a sigh of relief for Johnny Garcia after the jury acquitted him on all charges.
“We find the defendant not guilty of criminal sexual penetration in the second degree. We find the defendant not guilty of criminal sexual penetration in the third degree. We find the defendant not guilty of false imprisonment,” said District Court Judge, Cindy Leos.
Garcia was noticeably relieved when Judge Cindy Leos finished reading off those verdicts. During Friday morning’s closing arguments, both sides summed up their cases.
Prosecutors said Johnny Garcia took advantage of a 19-year-old Sunport worker who’d flirted with him, using his position as a police officer and his age to lure her into a closet at the Sunport, forcing her to perform oral sex on him.
The defense claimed it was her idea to find a quiet spot to have consensual sex. The defense said Garcia claimed the 19-year-old turned on him after he blocked her on his phone.
“Flirting does not equal consent, okay, especially to the level of what was going on here,” said New Mexico Prosecutor Lisa Roybal.
“Johnny blocked her. He blocked her text messages. He blocked her calls. There’s no communication, so she’s probably angry,” added Defense Attorney Jeramy Schmehl.
As the judge went over some formalities after the verdict, Garcia cried. He’d been in jail for more than six months since his arrest because a judge was concerned he’d contact the accuser, witnesses, and coworkers about the case. Garcia was released from custody just minutes after Friday’s verdict. Garcia, who was in uniform and on the clock when he went into that closet with the coworker, resigned from APD after his arrest.