Santa Fe police detective charged with DWI; Allowed to walk due to 'safety concerns'

Officer not booked into jail because of safety concerns, department says
Jason Auslander | The New Mexican

The Santa Fe New Mexican
Jun. 02, 2010

State police charged a Santa Fe police detective with aggravated drunken driving over the holiday weekend, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Detective James Vigil, 29, was pulled over on N.M. 599 just after 2 a.m. Saturday when a state police officer saw his sport-utility vehicle weaving, Lt. Eric Garcia said. The officer stopped the black Nissan and smelled alcohol when he spoke to Vigil, Garcia said.

Vigil, who admitted drinking, also had "extremely" slurred speech and bloodshot, watery eyes, according to a police report. He later failed field sobriety tests, Garcia said. Vigil told the officer he was coming from downtown Santa Fe, and also admitted he was a city police officer, according to a police report.

His preliminary breath alcohol content was 0.19 more than double the legal driving limit, the report says. However, his breath alcohol content was 0.16 when he was officially tested later at the state police station.

Vigil was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated and failure to maintain a traffic lane. The probable-cause statement and the citation filed Tuesday at the Santa Fe County Magistrate Court indicated Vigil was booked into the Santa Fe County jail. However, online jail records indicate he was not booked, and Warden Annabelle Romero confirmed Tuesday that Vigil was never booked into the jail.

Garcia later said Santa Fe County Magistrate George Anaya Jr. authorized Vigil's release Saturday morning to a member of the Santa Fe Police Department.

Anaya clarified Tuesday that the state police officer called him to make sure the officer had the discretion to release Vigil because the officer felt Vigil would be in danger in the jail. Anaya said he told the officer that law-enforcement officers always have that option. Anaya said he did not release Vigil because he didn't yet have jurisdiction over him.

Santa Fe Deputy Chief Abram Anaya said a sergeant from the department's graveyard shift picked up Vigil at the state police station and drove him home.

Garcia said it's not unusual for a police officers to be released without going to jail because it is very difficult to guarantee their safety. Also, the jail must expend more resources to keep watch over an officer, he said.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Vigil declined to comment. He is scheduled to be arraigned in July.

Abram Anaya said the department placed Vigil on alternative duty generally some form of desk duty Tuesday morning. The detective will not work as a police officer until his internal affairs investigation is complete, Anaya said.

Vigil, a member of the department's Street Crimes Unit, has worked for Santa Fe police for nine years, he said.







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