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Fired Angel Fire Cop Claims Retaliation

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A former Angel Fire police officer claims he was fired late last year because he refused to stop issuing traffic tickets to local government officials and their families, The Raton Range reported.

In a lawsuit filed June 20 under New Mexico’s Whistleblower Protection Act, Michael Smith alleges that the police chief told him he shouldn’t give traffic citations to village councilors or their family members just hours after he issued a speeding ticket to the husband of a village councilor, The Range said.

Smith also claimed in the lawsuit filed in state District Court in Raton that he was told by the chief that the mayor’s office had complained about his issuing citations, the paper reported.

Smith, who now lives in Michigan, was hired by the village in December 2010 and was fired late last year just a few weeks after citing the councilwoman’s husband and just one week before his probationary period was to end, according to the lawsuit.

Stuart Hamilton, who was Angel Fire’s mayor from November 2009 to last March, told The Range he was unaware of Smith’s lawsuit but said he issued “no directive” to refrain from citing village councilors or their families.

In his suit, Smith claims he issued no further citations but told officials “he would still issue citations to anyone who breaks the law,” The Range said.

He is seeking compensation for lost wages and benefits and “reinstatement with seniority” to his old job, the paper reported.

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