ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A former Albuquerque Police (APD) officer was found not guilty of sexual assault while on duty at the Sunport. Now, he is suing his former employer, claiming the botched investigation cost him his job and reputation.
A former APD officer named Johnny Garcia was visibly emotional when a jury found him not guilty on all charges in February 2023 after a high-profile trial.
He faced a number of charges, including sexual assault and false imprisonment, after a 19-year-old Sunport worker accused him of forcing her to perform oral sex in a Sunport closet while he was on duty. The jury was unconvinced as the defense showed a mutual relationship between the two and portrayed the woman as someone who was seeking revenge after Garcia didn’t want a long-term relationship with her.
“Johnny blocked her. He blocked her text messages; he blocked her calls. There’s not communication, so she’s probably angry when she talks to Officer Jeremiah, and she makes this claim,” said Garcia’s defense attorney during closing arguments in the February trial.
Now, Garcia is suing APD and the sergeant in charge of the investigation. In the lawsuit, Garcia claims the sergeant botched the investigation which led to ‘baseless charges and his incarceration prior to the trial.’
According to the lawsuit, the woman alleged there were other victims though the sergeant didn’t get any other witnesses to corroborate the claim. It also accused the sergeant of putting false information in her police report.
The lawsuit said, after watching surveillance video of the alleged sexual assault, the sergeant reported the accuser looked ‘confused’ and ‘upset.’ However, the suit claimed the video quality was too poor to observe and report a detail like that.
It also claimed APD’s and the sergeant’s actions were ‘reckless’ and ‘malicious’ that led to ‘significantly diminished employment prospects due to the portrayal of his character’ by the sergeant’s report and in the subsequent news coverage.
KRQE has reached out to Garcia’s attorney for comment but is still waiting to hear back. KRQE also reached out to APD for comment on the lawsuit, a spokesperson for the department said they will respond to the allegations in court.