Rio Arriba County Sheriff Tommy Rodella was found guilty Friday on both counts - a civil rights charge for making an unconstitutional arrest of a motorist and a firearms charge for brandishing a gun during the crime - that he faced in a federal court trial in Albuquerque.
In finding Rodella guilty, the jury determined that the sheriff used unreasonable force, unlawfully arrested [the victim, Michael] Tafoya and used a dangerous weapon.
Tafoya, in police reports and at trial, maintained that Rodella and his son provoked what amounted to a road-rage incident by first tailgating him, then making “come on” motion as if they wanted to fight. Tafoya sped off but was trapped after he pulled into a driveway.
He testified he was begging for his life as an armed man who turned out to be Rodella wrestled with him and Rodella Jr. dragged him out of his car and threw him to the ground. Tafoya said that when Rodella Jr. told him the older man with a gun was the sheriff and Tafoya asked to see his badge, Rodella said, “Here’s my badge, mother(expletive)” and shoved the badge into Tafoya’s face. Tafoya was arrested and charged but his case was dismissed.
Helping back up Tafoya’s account were three other drivers who testified about intimidating encounters with the sheriff at traffic stops, including two that started with Rodella tailgating and one where the sheriff allegedly threw his badge at the driver.
Also, a jogger who witnessed part of the pursuit involving Tafoya confirmed that during the chase, Tafoya stopped and asked the jogger through his car window to call police. The same witness did say that the end of the pursuit, Tafoya nearly struck Rodella while backing up.
Read the rest here: Rio Arriba Sheriff Tommy Rodella Found Guilty on Both Counts
Attitude problem? What attitude problem?
Some members of the Rodella family were decked out in black shirts that gave their view of the proceedings Friday as Rio Arriba County Sheriff “Tommy” Rodella and his son appeared in handcuffs in federal court to answer to criminal civil rights charges.
“When Injustice Becomes Law Rebellion Becomes Duty” was the message printed across the back as the controversial sheriff and his son pleaded not guilty to charges that they violated the civil rights of a 26-year-old Española man during a high-speed chase, confrontation and arrest last March.
It’s not quite over. The Rodella defense now looks to implicate the US Attorney who convicted them. (From the first link:)
Rodella, 52, faces up to 17 years in prison.
Rodella’s lawyers have filed a “Hyde Amendment” claim of prosecutorial misconduct and allege that U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez has a “vendetta” against Rodella because the sheriff has refused to deputize U.S. Forest Service agents to enforce state law in Rio Arriba County.
Not the same ‘Hyde Amendment’ prohibiting US money being spent on abortions.