Created: 04/28/2014 10:23 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Police detectives have a tough job. They are tasked with investigating some of the worst crimes in the community and interviewing victims--seeing their emotional scars and offering the first hope of justice.
That’s why the story of Las Cruces Police Detective Michael Garcia is tough to swallow. Garcia investigated crimes against children and sexual assault cases. He interviewed hundreds of children who were preyed upon by adults in his 15 year tenure with the Las Cruces Police Department. But as it turned out, Detective Garcia had some secrets of his own.
In May 2011, Garcia responded to a homicide call. He was accompanied by a 17-year-old volunteer intern. She was widely known in the department because she had been volunteering for years prior and had received accolades for her great work.
On that day, something happened between the intern and Garcia. It caused the intern to shut down emotionally, do poorly in school, attempt suicide, and drop out of the LCPD’s internship program. Nobody knew why there was a sudden change in the intern’s demeanor, until a few years later.
A female LCPD detective ran into the former intern, who was now working at a local restaurant. The female detective asked the intern why she had dropped out of the program. It had really caught everyone off guard considering she had aspired to be a detective herself. That's when the intern broke down crying. She eventually told the detective that back in May 2011, Garcia had sexually assaulted her inside his patrol car.
Without Garcia knowing it, his fellow detectives began investigating him and then confronted him with the allegations. Garcia confessed to the assault on an audio recording.
These are some excerpts.
Garcia: I know I f***** up putting myself in that position, flirtatious. I know she was 16, 17. I don’t know how old she was.
Garcia: I said, "it should have never happened."And I just, you know—and—it—it granted I know it was f****** wrong, f** me.
Garcia: Granted, I’m an adult violating a child.
What makes this case even more infuriating to the intern and her family is that LCPD management knew Garcia had some problems and still allowed the detective and the underage female to be alone together. A few years prior, records show that Detective Garcia had been reprimanded for having sex in his patrol car with a fellow officer’s girlfriend, while drinking a bottle of wine. A used condom and empty wine bottle confirmed his supervisors’ suspicions.
In the confession of the sexual assault on the intern, Garcia is heard saying, “The badge gets you the p**** and the p**** gets you the badge. I don't think we even kissed. I mean it was straight touching, touching! It was like three f****** minutes. Three minutes for the rest of my life. I'm gonna f****** go away.
Garcia has accepted a plea deal from a federal prosecutor. He's scheduled to be sentenced later this summer. The plea deal calls for nine years in prison with supervised probation after.
Once word spread in Las Cruces of this story, an underage teenage relative came forward stating Garcia had been raping her for years. That case is being adjudicated in state district court.
Listen to the raw audio below. WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC LANGUAGE.