Full Story: Indicted Cop Still On Duty
POSTED: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - 5:47pm
UPDATED: Thursday, November 4, 2010 - 8:35am
EL PASO - He was left on the force with a gun and a badge after being charged and then indicted for sexual assault. Tonight, another El Paso police officer finds himself in trouble with the law.
Officer Mark Munoz is accused of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman last November. Despite being accused, charged and indicted for the sexual assault, we have been told by El Paso Police Department Spokesman Darryl Petry that he believes Munoz has remained on duty.
Remember officer Alberto Madrid? He was arrested last month after police say he stole the cash box from a wedding. Almost immediately the police department began procedures to fire him, but he hasn't been indicted for that crime. Munoz has been indicted for a more serious crime but is still working.
In the meantime, the District Attorney's office will be prosecuting the case, but should they? After all, District Attorney Jaime Esparza works closely with police and that is considered by some to be a conflict of interest. We spoke to two defense attorneys who disagreed on the issue.
Prosecutor turned Defense Attorney Brock Benjamin says it's completely legal and not a conflict of interest for Esparza to prosecute Munoz. Defense Attorney Stuart Leeds said it is a conflict of interest because of the dependency between the police department and the D.A.'s office. Both agreed, Esparza will not likely bring in a special prosecutor.
"The only time he's ever really done the right thing on cases involving conflict of interest is when he's been forced to do it. He won't do it on his own," Leeds said.
"Officers in El Paso are charged with crimes every so often, just like you or I. A lot of cases don't end up with special prosecutors when they involve police officers," Benjamin said.
We called the District Attorney's Office for comment, and left several messages, but no one has called us back. We also asked police who decided Munoz could keep working, and we told them we want an interview with that person, but they have not gotten back to us either.
The indictment is included as a PDF file below.