Jail official investigated over fight

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A high-ranking official with the Valencia County Detention Center has been placed on paid administrative leave following his alleged involvement in a fist fight at a local bar.

Valencia County Manager Bruce Swingle confirmed the official was placed on administrative leave last week after deputies said he and another man got into the fight at the Wild Pony in Los Chavez.

Deputies responded to the bar after the incident, but no one was arrested in connection with the alleged assault.

Swingle said that county officials consider allegations against the employee "serious," and said "appropriate action" will be taken once officials learn of the specifics of the incident.

The News-Bulletin is not naming the employee since he hasn't been charged with a crime.

"We can't take action against an employee until we have all the facts together," Swingle said.

The county manager said he expected the situation to be resolved "sooner rather than later" but didn't give an exact timetable.

He said he and Valencia County Warden Joe Chavez first learned of the incident from the Valencia County Sheriff's Office, not from the employee.

At about midnight on Feb. 17, deputies responded to the Wild Pony and found a 28-year-old Los Chavez man with a bloodied and bruised face, according to a police report.

The report said a man claimed the detention center official, who was off-duty, came up behind him and called him a derogatory name.

He claimed that he tried to ignore the man, but that the official "started punching him on and about his head" with brass knuckles.

The man's face was bruised and swollen and his right ear was bloodied and scratched when deputies arrived. He said he recognized the official because it was his ex-wife's brother, the report said.

The man refused medical treatment.

The Valencia County official told deputies he left the scene after the altercation because "he just wanted to get out of there and go to the hospital" that night, according to the report.

The report said the official told deputies the man "kept pointing at me and running his mouth," and he said the man "stepped into him" and taunted him before the official told deputies he retaliated and hit the man with a closed fist.

The official told deputies the man ran up to him shortly after in the parking lot and punched him, knocking him out cold. When he came to, the official said he started punching the man before he was "able to get away" and get to his car with someone's help, the report said.

The report said, that night, the official apologized to the bouncer and said he "should have" called 911 instead of leaving the scene in an interview with deputies.

His face was bruised and swollen and he had reddish marks on his chest, the report said.

Valencia County Sheriff's Capt. Gary Hall said deputies handled the situation in an appropriate manner.

"It's how we would handle anybody else under the same circumstances," Hall said.


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.