NM deputy and firefighter clash, file claims
Deputy claims the firefighter is a liability during emergencies
By Ryan Boetel
FARMINGTON, N.— A San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputy and volunteer firefighter have filed formal complaints against each in recent weeks, and the deputy said the firefighter is a liability during emergencies.
The fire chief and captain overseeing internal affairs for the sheriff's office said, despite the feud, there are good relations between firefighters and deputies, and this kerfuffle won't effect emergency response situations that involve deputies and firefighters.
Sheriff's Office Sgt. Terry McCoy has filed two complaints since November with the San Juan County Fire Department against Daniel Goldberg, a volunteer firefighter.
Goldberg, last week, filed a formal complaint against McCoy with the sheriff's office and said he is also planning to file a tort claims notice against the office. A tort claims notice informs a public agency that someone plans to file a lawsuit against it.
Goldberg's complaint alleges that McCoy lied and defamed Goldberg in complaints McCoy filed against him.
McCoy's complaint states that Goldberg needs to be watched at crime or accident scenes. McCoy arrived at the scene of a rollover crash on U.S. 64 on Oct. 31. McCoy said he saw Goldberg taking money and drug paraphernalia from the vehicle that crashed, according to the complaint.
"I had to explain to (Goldberg) that we needed to photograph and collect the evidence where it was at so we could keep our chain of custody for that evidence," McCoy said in a memo to the fire department.
Goldberg, who is also a San Juan County bail bondsman, said he was the first person on the crash scene to spot cash and drugs in the vehicle. Goldberg said he had permission to gather the materials and hand them to another deputy on the scene.
Goldberg said McCoy started yelling and "humiliating me in public," according to his complaint.
The other complaint McCoy filed against Goldberg stemmed from an altercation Goldberg had with another deputy.
In the complaint, McCoy said Goldberg responded to treat a woman at a domestic violence call last year. Goldberg asked the woman what had happened that night. The sheriff's deputy said he had to tell Goldberg not to ask questions related to the criminal case.
Goldberg, in an interview, said it is necessary for him to ask questions about how a person was injured before he treats the person.
"It would be medical malpractice for me not to ask those questions," he said.
San Juan County Fire Chief Doug Hatfield said the fire department reviewed the complaints and hasn't taken action against Goldberg.
Hatfield said it is important for paramedics and emergency medical technicians to ask victims of a crime about how they were injured in order to treat their injuries.
Of the allegation that Goldberg tampered with evidence at the scene of a crash, Hatfield said the sheriff's office never filed criminal charges against Goldberg and it was more than a week after the incident when it was brought to the fire department's attention.
Hatfield said this is the only case in recent memory when a sheriff's deputy filed a formal complaint against a volunteer firefighter.
San Juan County Sheriff's Office Capt. Brice Current said the sheriff's office is investigating Goldberg's complaint against McCoy.
Current said he is midway through the investigation that included reviewing tapes and reports from the incidents in question. He said the investigation may be completed later this week.
McCoy's memo to the fire department also states that he has dealt with Goldberg in the past during criminal investigations when Goldberg was the suspect in a crime.
"I have very little faith in (Goldberg's) ethics and feel he is someone I have to watch when he is on an investigation or scene," McCoy said. "With all that goes on during these hectic times I really don't need another person to watch over."
Goldberg was twice arrested on suspicion of felonies in San Juan County. In 2004, he and his son were charged with kidnapping, rape and other charges. He was acquitted after a jury trial. He also has been arrested on fraud charges but the case was dismissed.
Goldberg said he has good relationships with deputies and said his feud with McCoy began after he announced plans to run for San Juan County Sheriff on an anti-police corruption platform. Candidates vying for sheriff will file their intent to run at the clerk's office on March 11.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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