Silver City police officer locked in jail room with inmate he arrested, sues

Politics - Government

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A police officer said jail workers locked him in a room, in jail, with the man he just arrested to get back at him. He never committed a crime and claimed this happened because of his argument with corrections officers about how to handle the inmate.

Silver City Police Officer Kyle Spurgeon wants the Grant County Detention Center to change some of its policies after what happened there. “This is enough of this and I want out of here,” Spurgeon is heard saying in his lapel video from 2019. He claims he was locked in the booking area of the jail for about 45 minutes while unarmed and with the drunk driving suspect he just arrested.

Spurgeon said it all started when a jail worker told Spurgeon he needed to drive the arrestee to a hospital to get medically cleared before the jail would accept him. “I need you to go to the hospital and don’t refuse,” the health services administrator is heard saying to the inmate in the video.

Spurgeon’s attorney said that was a job the jail should have been able to do. “They can do the job the taxpayers pay them to do and medically clear prisoners. They can take an arrestee to the hospital themselves,” Attorney Laura Schauer Ives stated.

Spurgeon wouldn’t do it because the drunk driving suspect had already refused medical treatment. “I can’t use my authority to force a burden on somebody,” he explained. It was shortly after that when he was locked in the room.

Spurgeon just filed a lawsuit, aiming for the jail to update its medical clearance practices. “They can basically seek a court order conceding that their medical unit is so deficient that they can’t have a particular prisoner,” Ives added.

It was only once the suspect agreed to have Spurgeon take him to the hospital, that staff let them leave, and it got heated.

“You’ve got to follow our policy,” one corrections officer said.
“Your policies don’t trump state law,” Spurgeon responded.
“Yes, they do, sir. Yes, they do. Try me. Try me!” the corrections officer said.

They left, and Spurgeon told the arrestee on the way to the hospital that he still didn’t have to get checked out medically. “Whenever we get down there, it’s up to you still,” Spurgeon said. Spurgeon tried to get the District Attorney to file wrongful imprisonment charges, but with no luck.

KRQE News 13 asked the jail director about the protocol for medically clearing inmates, if they have adequate staffing to do so and if they’d be looking to make any changes. News 13 was told to submit a public records request.

This isn’t the first time Officer Spurgeon has been in the middle of a controversial case, for suggestions he’s made on the job. In June 2016 lapel video, Spurgeon was seen talking about then-District Attorney Francesca Estevez. That day Estevez’s car was recorded weaving across a highway outside Silver City.

Spurgeon and another officer were the first to reach Estevez in town and Spurgeon suspected Estevez was drunk or high but Silver City and New Mexico State Police eventually let Estevez go without making her do field sobriety tests. The attorney general later filed ethics charges against Estevez for continued comments she made about Spurgeon following her driving incident.

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