SANTA FE, N.M. — Seven women, including two former Santa Fe police officers, a fill-in judge and a State Police officer’s wife, have filed suit alleging harassment by former SFPD Sgt. Michael Eiskant and against Police Chief Ray Rael for failing to take action against Eiskant.
The chief’s failure to rein in Eiskant “ratified” Eiskant’s conduct and “thereby encouraged further misconduct by Eiskant,” the state District Court lawsuit maintains.
Eiskant retired from the Police Department earlier this year and was subsequently charged with 10 misdemeanor counts after an investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office.
He pleaded no contest to charges including harassment, stalking and attempt to commit false imprisonment, all involving female victims. The new lawsuit says Eiskant was “allowed to retire” during the investigation.
The two former officers who are plaintiffs in the new lawsuit, Cassandra Reed and Shannon Brady, say they filed complaints in December 2010 about Eiskant following and harassing them. But they say Rael told them “Eiskant’s behavior was not an issue.”
In Reed’s case, the lawsuit states, Rael told her “it would be easier to get rid of her than to do something about Eiskant.” The chief offered the two female officers face-to-face mediation with Eiskant. After they refused, Brady took medical retirement and Reed resigned.
Rael, in a phone interview Tuesday, said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation. But after he was read the accusations about him in the suit, the chief added, “I will tell you that the allegations that you have read to me are completely inaccurate.”
Eiskant, 42, who joined the Police Department in 1999, was often at the center of controversy. Numerous citizen complaints were lodged against him, including a high-profile 2005 case in which he was accused by a female police informant of sexually assaulting her at a hotel and of trying to get her to sign a contract to do pornographic videos, according to State Police reports.
Eiskant admitted being aroused during the encounter at the hotel room, but denied any criminal wrongdoing. Eiskant was suspended for five weeks in 2005 by a previous chief and, in 2007, for another month by the Law Enforcement Academy Board.
In the AG’s investigation, Eiskant was also charged with conducting unauthorized computer searches of two people, including one woman, through a law enforcement data system, and with larceny of $250 or less for taking marijuana away from a man.
After his no-contest plea in April, Eiskant had to give up his law enforcement license and was placed on probation.
The plaintiffs in the new lawsuit and their allegations are:
♦ Brady, who worked as an SFPD officer from 2005 until March. She said that in 2010, Eiskant became her supervisor and began following her when she was out on police calls and in training classes and would sit outside her office “for hours” after she was promoted to detective. After Brady was involved in a shooting, Eiskant called her “killer” and “slayer.” Even after she complained to Rael, Eiskant continued the following and “made lewd comments about Brady’s daughter on Facebook,” the suit says.
♦ Reed, an officer from 2010 until earlier this year. Eiskant followed her on police calls and when she was in her personal vehicle, she alleges. She and Brady agreed his behavior was “strange and made them uncomfortable.” After Reed’s meeting with Chief Rael, she felt her job “would be in jeopardy” if she continued to complain about Eiskant and she resigned.
♦ Rebecca Archuleta, who worked in the city prosecutor’s office, at police headquarters, in 2007 and 2008. She says she was sexually harassed many times, by Eiskant and others. But when she complained to Rael, then compliance officer for the city’s Human Resources office, “he told her he could fire her if she did not cooperate.” She resigned the next day.
In 2011, Eiskant began harassing her after he responded to her 911 call about a man on Rodeo Road with a gun. He started texting her although she hadn’t given him her cell phone number and wouldn’t tell her how he got the number.
♦ Sonya Carrasco-Trujillo, an attorney for the state Department of Public Safety and who has worked as a fill-in Santa Fe municipal judge. She moved into Eiskant’s neighborhood and he started driving his patrol car alongside her to talk when she was walking her dog, parked across from her house and would honk or turn on his police siren as she walked, the suit states.
Eiskant also sounded his siren or yelled over a loudspeaker when she drove through a school zone he was patrolling and also followed her as she drove elsewhere, she maintains.
Carrasco-Trujillo also learned from police officers that Eiskant made “lewd, sexual comments” about her at municipal court. She became frightened of Eiskant and believes it was him who broke into her house when she was away in November 2009. But when police proposed setting up surveillance of her house and her driving to catch Eiskant stalking her, she refused “to act as ‘bait’ for SFPD.”
♦ Tricia McFaul, wife of a state police officer. Her husband filed a complaint against Eiskant in 2011 “related to Eiskant’s using the restricted National Crime Information Center database to find out details about” Tricia McFaul. This complaint spurred the AG’s investigation of Eiskant, the suit states.
Shortly before the complaint, Eiskant had followed her as she and her daughter were in their car on a supermarket lot and she felt he had “run her license plate.” Her husband later confirmed that Eiskant had checked out the license plate number in the police database.
♦ Terrie Montoya, a state police human resources administrator. She says that in August 2011, Eiskant made “provocative body gestures that were sexual in nature” and told her he knew where she worked after pulling her over and saying her license plate cover and registration were improper. The registration turned out to be up to date.
♦ Olga Sanchez, who says Eiskant gave her a speeding ticket in 2003, then yelled at her, videotaped her and followed her after she ran into him months later on a Starbucks parking lot and didn’t recognize him. After that he followed her on other occasions.
The suit, which names city government as a defendant along with Eiskant and Rael, alleges civil rights violations, illegal use of personal driver’s information and violation of whistleblower protections for Brady and Reed. It seeks unspecified damages, including punitive damages.