GRAPHIC WARNING: Las Cruces Police Department's integrity being questioned in light of officer sexual assault case
POSTED: Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 9:36pm
UPDATED: Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 9:49pm
Las Cruces, NM (KTSM) — "Respect, Integrity, Dedication" - that's the standard for officers of the Las Cruces Police Department.
But LCPD's character is now in question after one of their own broke that promise.
"The badge gets you the p**** and the p**** gets your badge, you know," said former Las Cruces Police Detective, Michael Garcia in a taped confession to investigators in August, 2013.
Garcia admitted to sexually assaulting a 17 year old female student intern during a ride-along back in 2011.
"The Las Cruces Police Department really tolerated a lot of sexual banter and a kind of locker room mentality that resulted in an environment where someone like this would feel emboldened to sexually assault a female intern 20 years younger than him," said Shannon Kennedy, the teenage girl's attorney.
The girl is now suing Garcia, several of his colleagues, and the City of Las Cruces in a civil lawsuit for creating a hostile work environment that lead to the sexual assault.
"This was an isolated incident, and my client is very very apologetic, especially to the 17 year old young lady in what he has caused her and her family," said Steven Lorenzo Almanza, Garcia's attorney.
The Las Cruces Public School system, that runs the Excel student internship program the teen was once part of, says they were disgusted when the allegations first surfaced and suspended the ride-along program while an investigation was conducted.
But it was the first time something like this had ever happened.
"We, in turn, feel very comfortable with the police department placements. They have been a great partnership for this program for kids, and it continues today," said Jo Galvan, a spokesperson for the Las Cruces Public Schools.
Michael Garcia pleaded guilty in the case involving the student intern as part of a plea deal, and will have to serve 9 years in prison, if that sentence is approved by a judge.
He'll also have to register as a sex offender.
As for the civil lawsuit he's facing, that case is still pending.
According to court records, Garcia was also once investigated for drinking wine and having sex with another officer's girlfriend in his patrol car. He admitted to doing it but wasn't let go from LCPD.
NewsChannel 9 reached out to the Las Cruces Police Department today but they declined to comment on the matter.
For more information on the detailed court records, read http://www.ktsm.com/news/crimebeat/graphic-warning-court-documents-reveal-explosive-allegations-against-former-lcpd-offi