- Associated Press - Monday, August 21, 2017

ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) - The police chief of a troubled northern New Mexico city has been placed on paid administrative leave following grand jury indictments in connection with child abuse and witness intimidation allegations.

Espanola Mayor Alice Lucero told The Santa Fe New Mexican (https://goo.gl/Z2j25Q ) last week she placed Police Chief Matthew Vigil on leave following news of the indictments issued in Taos.

“I still don’t really know what he’s been indicted for,” Lucero said. “But you know, he’s just going to be on leave until further notice.”

The grand jury’s indictments were issued Thursday in a state District Court in Taos. The Rio Grande Sun first reported them in Friday evening.

The newspaper reported the Vigil, 41, is accused of threatening his wife and one of her children not to talk to police in connection with an alleged domestic violence case.

One indictment references an Oct. 30 incident in which police responded to a report from Vigil’s stepdaughter, who told police he was “very intoxicated and had a gun” during an argument with her mother. Police made no arrests during the call after finding no indications his wife had suffered physical abuse, according to police reports.

Police had to separate Vigil and Taos County Sheriff’s Deputy Jake Cordova after Vigil started an argument accusing Cordova of “talking with his wife,” the police report said.

One count in the indictment charges Vigil with intimidating or threatening his wife to keep her from reporting truthfully to law enforcement during a criminal investigation.

The second grand jury indictment refers to a March 31 incident in which Vigil allegedly threw a pair of shoes at his daughter at a Taos store.

The records did not show any attorneys representing Vigil. He did not immediately respond to email and phone messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Vigil became Espanola’s police chief in April.

Deputy Chief Eric Gallant will serve as acting chief until further notice, Lucero said.

According to an analysis by The Associated Press, Espanola has one of the New Mexico’s highest violent crime rates. The rate was 2,624 crimes per 100,000 people while the statewide rate was 656 per 100,000 people, according to latest FBI crime statistics released last year.

Espanola has a population of around 10,000 residents and has had one of the highest rates of opioid overdoses in the country.


Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, https://www.sfnewmexican.com

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