Without much explanation, newly appointed City Manager Robert Romero called SFR (and the other papers, presumably) to share informations about two settlements by the Santa Fe Police Department that will cost the city $240,000.
You can likely expect to see more about these cases in the dailies tomorrow; SFR is posting the bare-bones details here.
The larger settlement was granted to Frederico Rael involving a 2007 incident on Camino Piedra Lumbre. "Mr Rael suffered significant physical injury as a result of the forced used to unlawfully handcuff him while arresting him for a crime Officer [Flavio] Salazar knew he had not committed," a summary of Rael's complaint by attorneys Richard Rosenstock and Jeffrey Haas says.
Rael's complaint says that on Aug. 18, 2007, he was knocked over, physically abused, handcuffed and arrested without probable cause by Officer Salazar and Sergeant David Holiday. The complaint says that Rael "was dozing in front of the TV alone in his home" at 12:40 am when Officer Salazar, seeking a domestic violence suspect who didn't live there, rang Rael's buzzer.
Salazar was not wearing his full uniform (his hat was off and the rest of his body hidden behind a gate) did not identify himself as an officer. Rael, believing Salazar to be an intruder, threatened to pull a gun, the complaint says.
Salazar persisted, and eventually pointed his gun at Rael. Rael went inside and called 911, while Salazar called for backup. Sgt. Holiday and another officer arrived, and Rael was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer. The complaint says Salazar filed a false report claiming Rael had pointed a gun at him.
On Jan. 11, 2010, Arbitrator Woody Smith decided that Salazar—who was fired in May 2009, and then appealed his termination on grounds that he hadn't been convicted of perjury—had lied to a grand jury about having identified himself as a police officer.
The other settlement Romero released today, for $15,000, was granted to Brendon Singer, for unspecified reasons. The documents Romero provided mention disciplinary action taken against Officers David Smoker, Robert Hollingsworth and David Rael, Jr. The June 10, 2009 decision by Robert Rothstein upheld Smoker and Hollingsworth's termination, as well as a 40-day suspension for Officer Rael.
Update Jan. 15: From the Journal North (subscription required):
Rael passed a polygraph test and the charges against him were later dismissed. Salazar, who was named the police department's 2008 Domestic Violence Advocate of the Year, was fired in May 2009. ...
Rael's settlement was the largest made by the city in 2009. Over the course of the year, the city paid out $778,909 to settle 167 tort claims, lawsuits and threatened litigation, the city documents show...
The Journal filed a public records request for information on the city's 2009 settlement payouts last month. City officials provided some information in response to the request last week and more details this week, including on Thursday. City Manager Robert Romero also released some of the information requested by the Journal to at least one other newspaper Thursday.