Doña Ana County has released photos and videos from security cameras that show the moments the Sheriff’s Department took control of the county jail earlier this month.
The images and video, which NMPolitics.net obtained through a public records request, show an armored BearCat among the sheriff’s vehicles outside the Doña Ana County Detention Center on the morning of Dec. 8. They also show about 20 officers walking through the facility. The officers don’t have guns drawn, but some are dressed in combat gear.
After his department arrested jail Administrator Chris Barela at his home that morning on charges including embezzlement or fraud, Sheriff Enrique “Kiki” Vigil issued an executive order taking control of the jail and its employees, and placing the facility on lockdown. Any employee who didn’t cooperate was threatened with removal from the premises and possible prosecution.
Vigil’s order stated that he was trying to ensure “public safety and security” following Barela’s arrest. Vigil told the media he intended to hand control of the jail back to county administration after 2-3 days.
Later on Dec. 8, Judge Manuel I. Arrieta issued a temporary restraining order stating that Vigil was “without any legal authority” to interfere with the administration of the jail. It required him to return control to county management immediately — which Vigil did.
Arrieta ordered Vigil and county administration to appear in court this Friday at 4 p.m. “for a hearing on whether an extended restraining order will be issued.”
Here are videos showing the takeover:
And some photos: