ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A former Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office sergeant will spend three years on supervised probation after a jury found him guilty of battering a suspect as fellow deputies attempted to handcuff him.
David Priemazon’s defense attorney asked for probation and a conditional discharge for a man who “devoted his life to a career in law enforcement and helping others.”
Saying he was guilty of police brutality against a defenseless suspect, prosecutors lobbied for the full three-year prison sentence that aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm carries.
But state District Judge Daniel Gallegos said he did not see the value in incarcerating Priemazon. Instead, he ordered the defendant to spend three years on supervised probation and required him to pay restitution, to complete 100 hours of community service in each of those years and to take anger management classes.
“I would venture to say you will suffer some of the consequences of those actions – regardless of what happens over the next three years – every day,” Gallegos said. “Every day when you’re not able to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I completed an entire career, as a sergeant and as a deputy, without violating the public trust.’ And you’re going to have to live with that.”
The judge also granted a deferred sentence, which means that Priemazon’s attorney can make a request to dismiss the case after his client completes his probation.
“Prosecutors are obviously frustrated with the decision,” a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “Our office sought the full three years available for the savage beating, instead Priemazon was given a deferred sentence, probation and will be allowed to carry a gun.”
Prosecutors said that in March 2018, Christopher Lucero led deputies on a chase through the South Valley and onto Coors SW before a deputy forced him to stop by crashing into his SUV. The vehicle rolled, and Lucero climbed out and ran. When he tripped and fell, deputies tried to cuff him. Four deputies testified that Priemazon kicked Lucero in the head and ribs as the group tried to take him into custody.
“The deputies that testified in this case all had two years or less time on the force,” prosecutor James Grayson said. “They had every incentive to keep their mouths shut, and no incentive to risk their careers by coming forward to report their own supervisor.”
The defense argued that Lucero’s injuries had been caused by the car wreck and the “softening techniques” other deputies used while attempting to handcuff him. But attorney Sam Bregman’s argument Tuesday focused largely on his client’s life leading up to and after that day.
In a sentencing memorandum, Bregman called the incident “aberrant behavior” and said his client had led a life of “not only abiding by the law, but enforcing the law, while also helping others and serving the community.” After the hearing, Bregman said he believes the judge worked hard to hand down a sentence that he believed was fair.
More than 30 friends, colleagues and family members sent dozens of pages of letters to the court describing Priemazon as a dedicated officer, a man of faith and a loving father. Several people attended the sentencing hearing in his behalf.
“It’s a shame to punish my husband (who has had a stellar law enforcement career) for a ‘one minute and nineteen second period of time,’ out of a 21-year career,” his wife wrote in a letter that she read at the Tuesday hearing.
Lucero’s attorney Louren Oliveros said her client and his mother were unable to attend the hearing because they did not have sufficient notice.
“I’m very happy that the judge honored the jury’s verdict, and that he recognized that this was a serious violent offense and that police officers have to be accountable at every moment,” Oliveros said.