ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A former deputy with the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office has been charged with battery after he slapped a boy who was handcuffed in the back of his patrol car in August 2015, according to a criminal complaint filed in Sandoval County Magistrate Court.
An investigation by the New Mexico State Police found that deputy Fred Switzer, 70, may have used excessive force against the boy when he slapped him four times, according to the complaint, filed Friday.
The boy was secured with leg shackles, a belly chain, handcuffs and a seat belt in the back of the car after an Aug. 24 court appearance at the Sandoval County District Court, according to the complaint.
The complaint doesn’t give the boy’s age, and a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office said he didn’t know. It has been reported that he is 12.
Switzer was fired after an administrative investigation, said spokesman Lt. Keith Elder, but he didn’t know when.
“An administrative investigation was done because he acted inappropriately by slapping a juvenile in custody,” Elder said. “A supervisor was close by when the incident occurred and reported it to the administration.”
A video recorded from the inside of Switzer’s vehicle shows that the handcuffed boy spit in the direction of the deputies standing outside the car, according to the complaint. When interviewed, the boy told police he knew Switzer’s car was new and he spit to annoy him.
The video shows Switzer getting into the car and slapping the boy across the face with the front and back of his hand several times.
“I was shocked by it,” Elder said. “My reaction would be very similar to anyone else’s that saw a law enforcement officer strike a juvenile restrained and in a vehicle.”
After the investigation by State Police, the district attorney for the 13th Judicial District charged Switzer with petty misdemeanor battery.
Switzer had been with the Sheriff’s Office for eight years, Elder said. He declined to comment on whether Switzer had other complaints of excessive force against him.
Switzer had also been fired from the Albuquerque Police Department, said officer Tanner Tixier, an APD spokesman.
Tixier did not immediately know why he was terminated, but he said Switzer had been with the department as a probationary officer for less than a year in 2003.