ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque police officer accused of raping a woman while on duty at the Albuquerque International Sunport went before a judge Thursday. The judge ruled he will stay behind bars until trial.
Back in February, investigators say Johnny Garcia lured a Sunport employee into a closet near the baggage claim area while on duty. She told police Garcia kissed, groped her, and forced her to perform oral sex on him.
He was booked on the rape charge last week and quickly released. During a hearing today, the District Attorney’s office asked Judge Stan Whitaker to keep him locked up until trial. “We have an officer in the throes of his duty, as an officer on duty, in uniform engaged in conduct that is of concern,” said Crystal C. Cabrido, State of New Mexico.
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Garcia’s attorney disputed the claims saying there is no evidence of any kind of sexual assault. “The strength of the pretrial argument in the case entirely rises and falls with the allegation by one person,” said Jeramy I. Schmehl, defense attorney.
The state also argued that in the two months after the woman came forward, Garcia contacted other Sunport workers and Albuquerque Police Department officers to discredit her story. “He was told not to, but yet he still proceeded to use his clout in an attempt to interfere with an ongoing investigation,” said Cabrido.
That was enough for Judge Whittaker who ruled Garcia would be held until trial. “I don’t know that I can set conditions that would prevent him from continuing to do that kind of thing or having third parties have contact with her for either purposes of intimidating her or discrediting her,” said Judge Whittaker.
APD put Garcia on paid leave for two months during the investigation. He’s now suspended without pay. There’s no trial date yet for Garcia.