He got a second chance after a drunk driving arrest. Now, a deputy is accused of breaking the law again.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office said it is conducting an internal affairs investigation into an encounter last year involving Deputy Mikal Duran.
On Oct. 29, 2017, New Mexico Game & Fish stopped Duran and a friend, while they were deer hunting near Roswell, according to court documents.
Someone had reported them for trespassing.
Duran admitted to continuing down a road after seeing a “No Trespassing” sign.
“I thought that if it had, “No Trespassing,” or anything like that it meant just off the road,” he told the Game & Fish officer.
By the time Game & Fish caught up with Duran and his friend, a report states, Duran told officers he drove an ATV off-road across a pasture, that his friend shot a deer from the back of the ATV and officers found the hunters parked within 300 yards of a watering hole used by cattle.
Those are all things the state’s hunting rule book says not to do.
“I had absolutely no idea that we couldn’t do that. If I did, I guarantee you, sir, there’s no way, absolutely 100 percent we would’ve done that,” Duran said.
“How long you guys been hunting?” the officer asked.
“This is my first deer hunt, or second deer hunt,” Duran responded.
When it comes to hunting, New Mexico Wildlife Federation President John Crenshaw said, “It is a privilege.”
When asked about Duran’s case, Crenshaw said, “He messed up.”
Duran insisted to Game & Fish that he didn’t know any better.
He said, “Sir, I had, I had no idea. I… I promise you, I mean, I cannot afford to get arrested. I don’t know if… “
“No, I understand,” the officer interrupted. “He told me you’re with Bernalillo County, Bernalillo County SO, but at the same time… um, you know, you guys are both huntin’, both got licenses. We have our rules and information book, which talks about driving off-road.”
Crenshaw echoed that, saying ignorance is not an excuse.
“He should’ve known. It’s a personal responsibility to know what the rules are and to abide by them,” he said.
Crenshaw said, as a law enforcement officer, Duran especially should know that.
“Law enforcement officers are held to higher standards.”
He does acknowledge the laws can be complicated but says they’re there for good reasons.
This is not his first time getting in trouble. In fact, his law enforcement career got off to a rocky start.
Less than four months after joining the Albuquerque Police Department on Nov. 7, 2011, as a cadet in the academy, APD fired him.
A department memo obtained by KRQE News 13 states that Duran found himself in the emergency room after a drunken “altercation” outside of a bar left him unconscious on the sidewalk.
Duran said that he was leaving the bar when “an unknown male subject jumped him from behind and punched him in the mouth,” according to the memo.
It states that an officer “administered a PBT breath test to Cadet Duran at the scene with the results being .16.”
When given the option of resigning or being fired on Feb. 27, 2012, the memo said, “Duran became argumentative said he did nothing wrong and asked for a copy of the arrest report and the termination letter.”
Two years later, APD arrested Duran for driving drunk.
“How’s it going?” the officer asked Duran.
“I’m a 34, man,” Duran responded.
That is code police use meaning “law enforcement officer” because, by that point, Duran had become a deputy with BCSO.
“I got you goin’ 62 on radar, and I think you were goin’ faster than that by the time you finally slowed down,” the officer said. “So that’s… awful fast, man, whether you’re a 34 or not.”
The report said Duran was driving 62 mph in a 40 mph zone.
Then, body camera video from Jul. 11, 2014 shows Duran stumbled through field sobriety tests.
The officer arrested Duran for aggravated DWI after he blew at least a .16, according to the criminal complaint.
However, all the evidence against Duran did not make it to court. The District Attorney’s office told KRQE News 13 that prosecutors didn’t get the evidence in time from APD, so the case was dismissed.
APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos did not answer News 13’s questions about what happened.
Duran resigned from BCSO as the department moved to fire him, and the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board suspended his certification to be an officer anywhere in the state for a year.
When that time was up, BCSO hired Duran again—first, to do court security after the Law Enforcement Board gave Duran his certification back on a probationary status.
“He made an unfortunate mistake, and he paid the consequence,” Undersheriff Rudy Mora told KRQE News 13 in July 2017 when BCSO put Duran back on patrol as a deputy.
“He’s owned up to his mistakes, and we’re willing to give him a second chance,” Mora said.
Duran and his attorney did not respond to KRQE News 13’s requests for comment.
BCSO said no one can answer questions on camera about the matter because of the ongoing internal affairs investigation. Spokesperson Felicia Maggard emailed the statement below:
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office is aware of the October 2017 N.M. Game and Fish incident involving Deputy Mikal Duran, which occurred in Chavez County. The deputy has accepted full responsibility for the incident and notified his chain of command when it occurred. The charges related to this incident do not prohibit the deputy from performing his job duties. There is an active Internal Affairs investigation regarding this matter. We are not able to comment regarding Internal Affairs Investigations.
“Are we going to jail, sir?” Duran asked the officer in the body camera video.
“No, sir. We’re not gonna arrest you today,” the officer answered.
Court documents show Duran was charged with unlawful possession of deer and criminal trespass.
In February, Duran signed a plea agreement to plead guilty to illegal hunting with a deferred sentence.
That means the misdemeanor charge will be dismissed if Duran stays out of trouble while on unsupervised probation until the end of August.
Duran is also facing a civil lawsuit.
His stepmom is accusing him of taking 40 guns that she said she inherited from Duran’s father.
Duran denies the allegations.