Fallen officers inducted into state law enforcement memorial

[anvplayer video=”5178392″ station=”998122″]

SANTA FE, N.M. — During a ceremony Tuesday, New Mexico inducted seven fallen officers into the state’s law enforcement memorial in Santa Fe.

Now etched in stone are the names of those officers and sheriff’s deputies who lost their lives.

“Today, they join the 210 other fallen heroes of New Mexico memorialized here. These men were consummate professionals known by their colleagues and in their communities as the guys you could really count on,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said.

The ceremony recognized the officers and each of their families. Each family received a flag in honor of their lost loved one.

The seven honored were:

  • New Mexico State Police Sgt. Thomas Vitale

In 2018, Sgt. Vitale died after suffering a medical episode while transporting an uncooperative suspect for a mental evaluation.

  • Colfax County Undersheriff Jeffrey Montoya
  • Curry County Deputy Charles Vannatta

Montoya and Vannatta each contracted COVID-19 while on duty. Montoya contracted the virus in 2021 and died. Vannatta died in January 2022.

  • Santa Fe police officer Robert Duran

Officer Duran lost his life during a pursuit on I-25 last year. He and other officers believed they were chasing a man who was holding a woman hostage as they went the wrong way down I-25 near Santa Fe.

Shortly after the crash, investigators alleged that woman, Jeannie Jaramillo, made that story up.

  • BCSO Undersheriff Larry Koren
  • BCSO Deputy Michael Levison
  • BCSO Lt. Fred Beers

These three men and BCFD rescue specialist Matthew King died last year in a helicopter crash. The crashed happened while they were assisting with a wildfire in Mora County.

“There is not a day that we’re not reminded of the New Mexican lives saved by the brave men and women present here today, and not present here today,” the governor stated.

All seven men are a part of the memorial to not only honor their sacrifice – but to ensure we never forget their sacrifice.