New Mexico Sheriff Under Investigation After Ordering Deputy to Release Alleged Drunk Driver To Show Deputy “Who Is Boss”

New Mexico’s Mora County Sheriff Thomas Garza sure show his deputy who is boss. Garza is captured on tape shoving a deputy and browbeating another over their plans to take in a DUI suspect, Patrick Trujillo. Garza argues with one deputy that he is boss around there and to prove it he would order the release of Trujillo, who has a DUI arrest record. Garza knew Trujillo who is the ex-husband of the dispatcher on duty on the day of the first arrest.

Garza is now under state investigation after the release of the tape.
The dispute began when Mora County Sheriff’s Deputy Lee Allingham tried to take Trujillo in for a blood test on April 7th. Garza blocked Allingham and told him to “chill out.” When Allingham objected that he was interfering with an arrest, Garza told him that he would do what I say and that’s it,” adding “I am the sheriff here, you’re not. I can do what I want. Nobody can tell me what to do . . . If I want to release him, I will release him.”

Garza is accused of twisting Allingham’s arm, grabbing the collar of the other deputy and pushing the second officer.

Garza insists that he took the action because he was in fear of his own life because the deputy was armed and having a “mental meltdown.”

Here is part of the exchange:

Allingham: “I don’t give a s— who the hell you are.”

Garza: “Take your s— off and get the (expletive) out of here.”
. . .

Allingham: “You don’t scare me… You don’t scare me.

Garza: “You do not talk to me like that.”

Allingham: “You don’t scare me. You’re an idiot.”

. . .
[Allingham insists that he is taking the man in]
Garza: “No, you’re not.”

Allingham: “Oh, yes I am . . . Do you want me to call the judge? I will.”

“I don’t give a s—,” Garza responds. “You know what, Lee, you do what I say. That’s it. You understand me?”

Allingham: “You have no authority interfering with my cases.”

Garza: “You know what, I am the sheriff here. You’re not . . . I am the one with the final decision here. I can do what I want.”

Allingham: “No you can’t.”

Garza: “If I want to release him, I’ll release him,” Garza says. “And that’s…

Allingham: “No, you can’t do that. This is his second DWI.”

Garza [to Deputy Sanchez]: “Release him,” Garza instructs another deputy.

Allingham: “No. Don’t release him, Justin (Sanchez).”

Garza: “I am the Sheriff here, you’re not… I have the final call.”

Allingham: “You know what, I don’t give an (expletive,)… No you can’t.”

Garza: “I make the final decision here. I can do what I want.”

Allingham: “No, I’m taking this guy for a DWI… Oh yes I am

Garza: “Oh no you’re not.”

Frankly both the Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff sound out of sorts, a point made by the third officer who is recorded stating “I’m trying to calm you guys down, this is (expletive) unprofessional.”

You can listen to the tape:

Source: ABC

29 thoughts on “New Mexico Sheriff Under Investigation After Ordering Deputy to Release Alleged Drunk Driver To Show Deputy “Who Is Boss””

  1. I am a Mora County resident and employee. The County is going down the drain little by little and after all the law suits that have been filed against the County by the employees that were fired due to Mr. Patrick Trujillo’s stupidity,we will be lucky to have our jobs in the end. Meanwhile Mr. Trujillo continues to be seen purchasing alcohol, partying with his friends, staying out til all hours of the night, he has basically broken all the conditions that were set by the DA’s office but what does Mr. Trujillo care he basically got away with a crime that could of taken an innocent persons life. Mr. Trujillo’s ex-girlfriend whom was the dispatcher at the time of the arrest has won a settlement against Mora County due to being fired by Sheriff Garza and that,s just the beginning of Mora County going down the drain meanwhile Patrick Trujillo gets away with not his first DWI and not his 2nd DWI but his 3rd DWI. It’s time that the law be served and that he pay for his crime just like everyone else does. However, it is sad that he’s getting away with it meanwhile Mora County is being dragged through the dirt!

  2. There could be something going on here that might have escaped you folks. Arpio’s name has already been thrown out here, but he is far less dangerous than Richard Mack. Mack of the Constitutional Sheriff’s and Peace Officers Association. Mack is a Tenth Amendment + posse commitatus organizer of Sheriffs who are aching to arrest State or Federal agents.

    If Garza is one of “them”, the best way the Deputy or anyone else in the community can be rid of the anti-government cop is to get him on another crime. In my County our Sheriff is on Richard Mack’s Board of Directors! We can’t safely recall him because Dick Mack is so chummy with the local Christian dominionist militia that they have his picture with their Commander on their website.

    I’m envisioning petitions containing 5049 names and addresses, one short of the number required, being on the public record for the use of the militia and there’d have not even been a ballot. Too risky!

    We have to catch him, like Garza, in a crime.

  3. ”Obama is unspeakable”

    Well at the very least he is flexible and open minded. Just compare his positions as a senator and the policies of his administration. Ultimately the president whether Obama, Bush or anyone else is responsible for the actions of their administration. Of course, one might pose the serious question: What is the alternative?

    But doesn’t it seem that there might be an authoritarian, anti democratic faction in the DOJ and other major federal agencies?

    I have heard that after 911, drafts for major legislation appeared within days. I know you lawyers can work fast. But a skeptic might wonder is much of this stuff was sitting the shelf, ready for the right moment.

    Now, I know DOD keeps contingency plans for just about any possible situation imaginable.

    But DOJ ready with materiel witness warrants, rendition, black prisons, monitoring every electronic communication of everyone in the country, agency issued search warrants, and on and on for a thousand pages. Does that surprise anyone – even a little?

  4. Michael Murry,
    What you write and what you quote is superb.

    Obama is unspeakable. And Ellsberg expressed his thankfulness that Bradley Manning did as he did.

  5. bfm,

    The power of arrest lies in the officer and is at his discretion. He doesn’t have to clear every arrest with his boss. All he needs is probable cause. This case also involves arguably obstruction, the certain appearance of impropriety and apparent favoritism. Did they handle it professionally? No, they didn’t. Then again, telling the Deputy to cut the guy loose in the first place “just to show who is boss” wasn’t professional either. If that was the point the Sheriff was trying to make? Putting the Deputy on administrative leave would have been more appropriate.

  6. I expect wide open race for Sheriff of Mora County, New Mexico, at the next election.

  7. MM,

    I was raised in a household where questioning authority was the norm. The desire for blind conformity in our species is something I find equally puzzling (but understandable) and distressing. It seems to be manifest in the organizational psychology of every type of human organization to one degree or another. It’s a behavior that I’m not certain can be modified in some. There is a song by Jane’s Addiction titled “Pets”. The chorus of the song is “We’ll make great pets.” Some of us do, certainly. And it is this very willingness to abdicate free will that rests at the bottom of a great many injustices in this world. Thankfully, some of us still would make terrible pets.

    1. “questioning authority was the norm.” Gene H.

      I think many of us would applaud questioning questioning authority. But this case also involves (1) who ultimately decides and (2) how does a responsible person conduct oneself when when you loose the decision.

      I don’t think any of use benefit with law enforcement in a shoving match.

  8. ‘file your report, send a copy to the county commissioners and the state AG.That’s how the system works.” Oro Lee

    Thanks, that sounds about right. I had wondered: presumably these are sworn officers, and have an obligation to enforce the law. So what happens when the officer’s understanding of the law conflicts with department policy. Document the problem and move on sounds pretty reasonable – except when the problem really does reflect corruption and and those who should take action do not want to get involved. At that point, I suppose, the unfortunate officer has to decide whether to protect his job and ignore the situation, or find a reliable reporter.

    I was also fascinated with “took the action because he was in fear of his own life”. Lucky this did not take place in Florida, else we would likely have at least one dead deputy.

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