Home New mexico state New Mexico Police Chief Frank Methola accused of being a thug has a very ugly past

New Mexico Police Chief Frank Methola accused of being a thug has a very ugly past

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Frank Methola, 50, a law enforcement veteran and police chief in the small town of Loving, New Mexico, was charged this week for allegedly attempting to make an arrest outside his jurisdiction and teasing someone in the process.

The accusations have not come as a shock to those who have come into conflict with Methola during his career. Not only because what is alleged fits their description of a cop who they believe became a thug and used excessive force, but because they could not understand that Methola was still working in the forces of the ‘order.

The saga is one of countless examples of a larger national trend of seemingly problematic cops bouncing around various agencies, even within the same state, and even promoted along the way.

“Methola is a police chief?” You’re kidding me, ”Steven Otero, who sued Methola for using force against him in 2006, told The Daily Beast. “I can’t imagine he’s still an officer. It’s ridiculous.”

Methola did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

According to a criminal complaint filed Monday, Methola is charged with theft of the identity of a peace officer and assault and battery. Methola was driving in his loving police unit in August when he entered Carlsbad, New Mexico, a town about 12 miles away. According to the complaint, Methola attempted to stop an anonymous driver in a Ford F-250 for an unknown reason.

The driver of the car was “upset and yelling” at Methola because he knew Methola lacked jurisdiction to be in Carlsbad, according to the complaint. But Methola is said to have tased the man and detained him, although no charges or summons have been issued against the driver. After the incident, investigators attempted to meet with Methola three times to obtain a statement, but were unable, according to the complaint.

The Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction in Carlsbad and is the agency responsible for granting neighboring agencies the privilege of making arrests in the town, had not granted those powers to Methola, according to the complaint.

Eddy County Sheriff Mark Cage told the Daily Beast that no one in the Loving Police Department, which has only four officers, has that power.

Cage said Methola’s accusations came after his office referred the case to the Eddy County District Attorney’s office. During the traffic stop, Cage said his deputies responded to the scene and released the man Methola arrested and tased.

The district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Cage said the stop was a “significant” distance from where Methola is supposed to be patrolling.

Prior to the arrest, Cage said, he knew Methola was Loving’s police chief, but said he hadn’t had much interaction with him. “It’s not good,” he said of the incident, adding that since the August shutdown and the charges against Methola, he has learned more about the troubled past of the officer.

“Yeah,” he said, “he’s had problems in the past, if I understand correctly. “

Methola was first hired in the love police department in March and promoted to chief of police in August, a few days before the incident in question occurred, according to the department’s Facebook posts. The city has a population of less than 2000 people.

The city’s mayor, Pete Estrada, did not respond to a request for comment.

Methola’s law enforcement career began in August 2001 with the New Mexico State Police, according to a lawsuit he filed against the agency after he resigned in 2004.

In December 2003, Methola told an agency surveillance officer that he suffered from attention deficit disorder. When asked to undergo a psychological assessment, Methola argued that the examination was not “related” to his job and refused, according to the prosecution. He also claimed in the lawsuit that he was “harassed” while at the agency for his Hispanic and Italian heritage.

In 2004, Methola claimed he was forced to resign from state police.

However, his unfair dismissal complaint filed in 2005 never gained much ground, as Methola has repeatedly failed to serve his complaint to state police or respond to court requests, according to legal documents.

A state police spokesperson confirmed that Methola worked for the agency between 2001 and 2004, but declined to release any information related to internal investigations or complaints against Methola.

In 2006, when Methola first met Otero, the cop was working as an assistant in the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Otero’s lawsuit, Methola responded to the self-storage consignment in Los Lunas, New Mexico, which Otero possessed to report a stolen motorcycle from one of the units. Things took a turn for the worse, however, when Methola allegedly put on his lawyer cap and began to inform the man whose motorcycle had been stolen that he could sue Otero.

After Otero told Methola he was irrelevant, the deputy became “angry and hostile” and “violently” arrested him, according to the lawsuit.

“Boom, he threw me against the car and handcuffed me and threw me in the car,” Otero told The Daily Beast.

Obstruction charges against Otero were dropped, according to the prosecution. Otero claimed that after the incident he went to visit Sheriff Richard Perea at the time to complain about Methola and was told he would do Perea a “favor” if he brought a claim. lawsuit because he allegedly tried to get rid of Methola.

However, when contacted by The Daily Beast, Perea said he couldn’t remember if he said this.

Perea said he did not hire Methola but that the cop was already part of the department when he became sheriff in 2004. Perea said he left the department in 2007 and declined to comment on any disciplinary action. taken against Methola during this period, as it is a “personnel matter”.

But when told about Methola’s new job as chief of police, Perea said, “Oh, wow”, and laughed.

Otero’s lawsuit was later dismissed after Otero said he received a settlement of less than $ 3,000 and Methola apologized to him in federal court. Court documents show that the two sides have agreed to a “mutual understanding”.

But Otero said he got wind of other incidents Methola was involved in, including another federal lawsuit filed against the officer in 2008 by a Los Lunas resident who alleged Methola also used excessive force against them. under the right circumstances.

Dina Monarrez claimed in the 2008 lawsuit that Methola and another deputy entered her mobile home unannounced and began rummaging in her living room without a warrant. When Monarrez confronted the police and asked them to leave, Methola asked for her ID, threatened to have her deported and then tackled her to the ground, according to the lawsuit.

Although Monarrez has not been charged, a response to Monarrez’s complaint by a lawyer representing Methola argued that Methola’s actions were supported by probable cause, although the documents did not mention any specific crimes Methola was investigating. .

Monarrez told the Daily Beast that she still remembered that night and heard noises coming from her mobile home. “I thought it was an intruder or someone going to break into the house,” she said.

Monarrez said that when she confronted officers about not having a warrant, only Methola got angry with her who apparently challenges her authority. “He got angry and threw me to the ground right away.”

She described that Methola grabbed her and slammed her head against the floor of her house, causing bruises on her face. She claimed that Methola told her, “You should go back to Mexico” at some point.

“I was born here in the United States,” Monarrez told the Daily Beast, still appalled by the comment.

In March 2009, Monarrez’s lawsuit was dismissed after the issue was independently resolved, according to court documents. Monarraz told the Daily Beast that she received a settlement of $ 20,000.

In 2010, Methola was shot again when he was arrested by a local judge who became annoyed by his failure to appear in court over several citations he had received for his alleged reckless driving while he was chasing a theft suspect, according to The Albuquerque Journal. The quotes came after New Mexico state police investigated the incident, the outlet said.

Rene Rivera, the Valencia County Sheriff from 2007 to 2010, said that following the incident with Monarrez – and two instances where Methola allegedly “destroyed” a patrol unit – he decided to fire Methola from the sheriff’s office in 2010.

Orlando Montoya, head of human resources for Valencia County, confirmed to the Daily Beast Methola that he had resigned in October 2010 “instead of being fired”.

Rivera said that during his time in the sheriff’s office, Methola had received a number of complaints for being “a little brutal” against people of Mexican descent. However, he said he couldn’t prove or disprove the claims at the time.

He recalls speaking to Monarrez after meeting Methola and advising him to explore his legal options. “This is my department,” he said, “but again, I don’t endorse any such thing. “

Rivera said he also opened an investigation into the incident and discovered that Methola had failed to conduct himself “in an appropriate manner to enforce the law” during the incident. As a result of the investigation, Rivera said, he filed documentation for Methola to be fired.

Rivera said he had heard of Methola bouncing around other agencies after leaving the sheriff’s office. Upon learning of Methola’s accusations in Loving, Rivera said he was very surprised to learn that his former employee was a police chief.

And when Monarrez learned of the charges against Loving, over 300 miles south of Los Lunas, where she first met him, she couldn’t believe the officer still had a career in enforcement. laws.

“I thought they were going to take his badge or license,” she said.