ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico State Police officer is charged with DWI for the third time, and the chief of police is explaining why he hired the officer knowing about his two prior drunk-driving convictions.
On Friday, August 12th, around 2:30 p.m., Albuquerque police were called to the MATS Detox Center on Zuni, according to a police report. Someone hit a car in the parking lot.
That person, according to the APD report, was Morgan Ortiz, who then became aggressive toward the MATS staff. The MATS staff had to “close off part of the facility for the safety of others.”
APD says Ortiz’s eye were bloodshot and that he could barely stand.
When APD asked him how much he drank, he said “11.” When asked how long ago that was, he said “11.” And when asked where he was coming from, Ortiz again said “11.”
The reports go on to state that Ortiz was too drunk to be arrested for aggravated DWI and reckless driving. Instead, he was taken to a hospital and will be summonsed for the charges.
In the lapel video, Ortiz is heard yelling, “I’m an officer of the law.” Ortiz was even heard cussing at officers.
This was his third DWI, according to criminal records. He was previously convicted of DWI back in 2003 and 2004, both before his 21st birthday.
As it turns out, Ortiz, 32, is a graduate of New Mexico State Police’s 89th academy in December 2015. He hadn’t even been patrolling the streets for a year.
“We put him through a battery of tests: psychological, medical tests that, unfortunately, after all the years of him being sober, something happened.” Chief Pete Kassetas said.
Kassetas said he was fully aware of Ortiz’s criminal record when he hired him, and took a chance on the young man.
“He’s embarrassed, he’s upset,” Kassetas said. “Obviously as the chief, I’m embarrassed and I’m not happy.”
Ortiz’s gun and badge have been taken from him and he’s been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of both the criminal case and an internal affairs investigation.
Kassetas called the incident “unfortunate,” and said Ortiz was attempting to seek help from the detox center when this happened.
Still, Kassetas said “I wish he would have called somebody. Any number of officers would have went to his aid and given him a ride to that treatment center.”
He said it could be several weeks before it’s decided what’s next for Ortiz, whose job he called “in jeopardy” at this point.