This story is a staff report from The Paper.

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Today, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced that former Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Barnes pled guilty to one felony count of false imprisonment. As part of the plea agreement, Barnes must relinquish any law-enforcement certification and is not eligible to seek, obtain, or have employment in any law-enforcement position for the rest of his life. Sentencing has been set for January 5, 2023 where Barnes faces up to 18 months in prison.  

“There is no excuse for a public officer to abuse his power and use unnecessary force against a child whom he was employed to protect, and this incident further proves the need for law enforcement sensitivity and de-escalation training,” said Attorney General Balderas. 

In May 2019, while working as a school-resource officer at Espanola Valley High School, Barnes deployed his taser upon a 15-year-old special-needs student on school grounds.  Barnes tased the student multiple times, and subsequently took the student into custody despite a juvenile probation officer telling him that insufficient grounds existed to do so, and despite the presence of the student’s mother on scene. At the time of the incident, Barnes was neither properly certified as a law-enforcement officer nor was he current on the training necessary to carry and use a taser.