SANTA FE – The Rio Arriba County jail officer who was shocked with a Taser by a county deputy at the jail recently was tased “in the genital area,” according to two brief accounts of the incident released by the county Friday.
The incident that led to the tasing of detention officer Timothy J. Gallegos apparently started after a group of deputies arrived at the jail in Tierra Amarilla on June 3 and one was honking a car horn.
The county sheriff’s office confirmed last week that Deputy Leon Gallegos is on paid leave over the tasing.
Sheriff’s office Maj. Randy Sanches has called the use of the Taser “accidental” and said it took place in the sally port, a secured entrance to the jail.
On Friday, the county released accounts of the tasing by Timothy Gallegos and another jail officer.
Timothy Gallegos wrote that he and officer Terrance Garcia went out to help arriving deputies. His statement said that he was “joking” when he told Deputy Gallegos “to stop honking his horn at my jail.”
“When he said this isn’t your jail,” both men laughed, then Deputy Gallegos “pulled his issued taser out and tased me in the groin,” says the jail officer’s report. He added that he told jail administrator Larry Deyapp what happened and Deyapp “advised me to do the proper documentation and go get checked out by a physician” at a nearby clinic.
Jail officer Garcia’s statement says the incident took place about 9:30 a.m. He says that he heard Timothy Gallegos tell Deputy Gallegos “to stop honking in a joking manner.”
“Deputy Leon opened the trunk of his marked sheriff’s vehicle and stopped behind the car facing as if to place items in the trunk,” says Garcia’s statement. He heard the deputy say something to Timothy Gallegos and then turn toward Timothy Gallegos “while brandishing a black object in his hand.”
“I heard a loud pop” Garcia wrote, and he saw jail officer Gallegos “fall toward the ground.”
He heard a sound he immediately recognized as from a Taser “and noticed Taser leads on the ground,” Garcia added. Timothy Gallegos, after a few moments on the ground groaning, “stood up and stated he had been tased in the genital area,” Garcia’s report concluded.
Rio Arriba County Manager Tomas Campos, asked for comment Friday, said, “I can’t comment because I don’t know what you want me to say.”
The jail incident is the second recent tasing by a Rio Arriba deputy that has raised questions. Another deputy, Jeremy Barnes, tased a 15-year-old special education student at Española Valley High School on May 10
The school district condemned Barnes’ actions after the Rio Grande Sun newspaper first reported the tasing and obtained and posted video of the incident. The teen’s family has filed a lawsuit against the county.
Barnes, unlike Deputy Leon Gallegos, has not been placed on leave. Sanches said earlier this week that the department is reviewing its policy on taser use in light of the two incidents.
County government gave notice late Friday afternoon that video of the jail tasing, requested by news organizations, is available at office in Tierra Amarilla. But the notice came too late to reach the office before it closed Friday afternoon.