DA warns Dona Ana sheriff on compliance with camera mandate
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A Dona Ana County sheriff’s deputy didn’t wear a required body camera during a shooting incident, prompting the district attorney to warn the sheriff that deputies must comply with the requirement set by state law.
District Attorney Gerald Byers included the warning in a Jan. 31 letter telling Sheriff Kim Stewart that a September non-fatal shooting of a suspect who aimed a rifle at deputies was justified, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.
Byers’ letter noted that the deputy removed his body camera ahead of the encounter in order to put on body armor and left it behind.
Lack of video could jeopardize prosecutions, Byers said, pointing out that the law says an officer who doesn’t comply with the camera requirement “shall be presumed to have acted in bad faith.”
Stewart said it was an oversight that the deputy to not put his camera back on after putting on body armor.
“The deputy was in a crisis scenario and removed his everyday vest to put on his tactical vest, which did not have the camera,” she said.
Since September 2020, New Mexico law has required law enforcement officers to wear body cameras on duty and to record service calls and encounters with the public. T