Updated: May 19, 2020 08:23 AM
Created: May 18, 2020 06:52 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —The sheriff of Rio Arriba County was served search warrants for both of his phones last week after he was accused of interfering in criminal investigations.
KOB 4 obtained the lapel footage of Española police officers approaching the Rio Arriba Sheriff’s Office to serve the warrants, which was first reported by the Northern New Mexico Independent.
The video shows Sheriff James Lujan reluctant to hand over his personal and work phones after a magistrate judge ordered the seizure of the possible evidence.
"He has my personal phone and my work phone so if you want to stay there until I get it cleared through my attorney first,” said Sheriff Lujan in the lapel video.
For the next 20 minutes, the sheriff refused to hand over the phones and appeared to try and leave through the back door.
“You're not going to stop me if I want to leave,” said the sheriff.
The search warrants were issued after Sheriff Lujan allegedly showed up drunk at a SWAT standoff in March. This case involved suspect Phillip Chacon, who was wanted for stabbing and beating another man.
Further investigation led Española Police to seize the phone of city councilor John Ramon Vigil. Interim Española Police Chief Roger Jimenez told KOB 4 that Sheriff Lujan also showed up at that scene.
“There's definitely a pattern of behavior where he shows up on our scenes and he's not assisting, more so he's obstructing our investigations, so we're thinking there's correspondence on there and definitely maybe some other correspondence we're obviously still investigating,” Jimenez said in a phone interview.
After 25 minutes, Sheriff Lujan’s undersheriff finally hands over the phones.
“The sheriff and councilor keep saying that it's retaliation, but you can't make up probable cause,” Jimenez said.
As for those phones, they will remain in police custody. Additional search warrants will be needed to get any information off those phones.
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