VC deputy arrested on DWI charge

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A Valencia County Sheriff's deputy has been temporarily reassigned after being arrested and charged with a DWI offense over the weekend.

Valencia County Sheriff Louis Burkhard confirmed that deputy Paul "Pat" Gallegos was arrested and charged with a DWI offense early Sunday morning and has been reassigned to a "non-gun carrying" duty at the Valencia County District Courthouse.

Gallegos will be reassigned until an internal investigation is complete. There is no timetable on the investigation.

"We hold (our) people to a higher standard," Burkhard said. "It's unfortunate."

When asked by the News-Bulletin if he would like to comment on the matter, Gallegos said, "No, not at this time."

According to a police report, Gallegos was pulled over in an off-road vehicle near N.M. 47 and South Navajo Loop in Rio Communities after Valencia County Sheriff's Deputy Calvin Lucero saw Gallegos' vehicle travel towards him at a high rate of speed.

Shortly after, the deputy saw the 2012 Can-Am side-by-side "fishtailing" and almost lose control as it turned onto South Navajo Loop from a frontage road, the report said. Lucero made the traffic stop after the vehicle traveled west on the road and failed to stop at a stop sign at a nearby intersection.

During the traffic stop, the deputy asked Gallegos if he saw the stop sign, and Gallegos said, "Don't you know who I am?" After the deputy said he didn't, Gallegos said, "I'm 513," an identification number Gallegos uses for his work as a deputy.

According to the report, Gallegos told the deputy he was at a friend's house watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship fights earlier that night. The report said Gallegos' speech was slurred and a strong odor of alcohol was coming from his breath. His eyes were bloodshot and watery, the report said.

Gallegos told the deputy that he had "a couple of beers" that night.

According to the report, when Gallegos got out of his vehicle, he "appeared to be very unsteady" with his balance.

The report said Gallegos had an "obvious" sway during sobriety testing. When the deputy asked him to follow a pen's movement without moving his head, Gallegos "moved his head several times during the test" and "a few times, he would just stare" at the deputy.

At one point, Gallegos said he couldn't perform a test where he was asked to stand on one foot. Instead, he would raise his left foot off the ground and immediately drop it.

The report said Gallegos failed an alphabet test and a counting test where he was asked to count backward from 69 to 38.

A Breathalyzer test showed his blood alcohol level was .10 and .09. The results were above the legal limit of .08.

Gallegos bonded out of the Valencia County Detention Center on a $5,000 bond on Sunday morning.

Gallegos, who has been with the Valencia County Sheriff's Office since June 2009, retired from the Belen Police Department in January of that year. He started with the Belen Police Department in January 1989.


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