The Española Police Department forwarded a report of alleged domestic violence against Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan to the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office, but the alleged victim, his wife, said she wants everything to “go away.”
Police Chief Louis Carlos said the case is being investigated as a misdemeanor assault and battery that started June 9 at Wal-Mart but was only reported much later that evening at a home off of McCurdy Road.
Carlos said, in a Tuesday telephone interview, there was a confrontation between Lujan and his “estranged” wife.
A request for the report has been pending with the Department since Sunday morning and on Monday, Records Supervisor Francisco Galvan wrote in an email that no reports had been entered into the system.
“At (Wal-Mart), there was (sic) allegations that the Sheriff threatened her with a closed fist, and drew back as if to punch her,” Carlos said. “He made the statements, ‘I’m going to beat your ass’ and there are also allegations of him exiting the vehicle in an aggressive manner.”
He said, based on the report, Lujan also told his wife, “I will knock the (expletive) out of you,” witnessed by an unnamed friend of the victim.
Lujan said, in a Tuesday telephone interview, that he never hurt or threatened to hurt his wife.
“They’re both sitting here with me, both my wife, she’s not my estranged wife, and my son,” he said.
His son, Brandon Lujan, was with them at Wal-Mart during the verbal altercation.
James Lujan said the allegation of him threatening to punch his wife was false.
“It was a verbal disagreement and married people have disagreements,” he said. “We worked through, we’re talking about it and it’s a personal family issue we’re dealing with and it’s nobody’s business but ours.”
Following the argument at Wal-Mart, Julie Casados-Lujan allegedly left to a friend’s house off of McCurdy Road, Carlos said.
“(The) sheriff later showed up at that scene and he was notified that the police were called,” he said. “He confirmed, ‘good’ and then he left the residence.”
Officers Brandon Archuleta and Dustin Chavez then arrived and Chavez took a report.
Chavez noted redness on Casados-Lujan’s arm, where Lujan allegedly touched her.
They also helped Casados-Lujan apply for an emergency restraining order, only set to last for 72 hours.
“We contacted the (on-call prosecutor) and contacted the on-call district court judge, Judge (David) Thompson, and he granted the issuance of a restraining order,” Carlos said.
He said officers called James Lujan and asked to meet him so they could serve him with the restraining order.
“He refused to meet with us,” Carlos said. “He stated he was already out of town and he was not going to come back.”
Lujan said Chavez never talked to him about the incident.
“That was all a one-sided thing,” he said. “Nobody talked to me. I did leave. I wasn’t going to stick around.”
He said Chavez should have called him to get his side and, even if he didn’t have his number, dispatchers have it as well as deputies Chavez knows.
He did talk to Archuleta and explained it was a verbal disagreement.
“He called my son and he told him the same thing, I believe,” James Lujan said. “My son was right there with me when we were at Wal-Mart.”
He said Casados-Lujan was sitting next to him during the telephone interview.
“If she was in fear for her life, she wouldn’t be sitting next to me,” he said. “They’re doing this because of my position.”
In a later telephone interview, a woman identifying herself as Casados-Lujan said she had an argument with her husband.
“That was it,” she said.
Casados-Lujan said she did not remember why she filed the emergency restraining order.
“He’s never laid a hand on me the entire time we’ve been together,” she said.
When asked what the preferred outcome would be, she said, “I want for it to go away.”
First Judicial District Attorney Marco Serna said a report was forwarded to the Española office.
“That was yesterday,” he said, in a Tuesday telephone interview. “I haven’t had the time to get with my chief deputy in Española.”
Serna said the case will be given to the district attorney in another district.
“We would conflict that case out because we work so closely with the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “It would be the same if it was the sheriff or any of his deputies. One, aside from working so closely together, we also share a building.”
Serna said he has not had a chance to start the conflict process but he will find another district attorney to take the case.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s the entire investigation or just the preliminary,” he said.
The 911 call
According to E-911 Dispatch Center logs, a woman identifying herself as Casados-Lujan called 911 at 11:14 p.m., June 9, and said she wanted to file a report against James Lujan.
“(She) was asked if she wanted to speak to NMSP (she) stated no one is answering at the 753-2277 number,” the dispatch logs state.
At 1:18 a.m., Española Police Det. George Martinez told dispatchers that Sgt. Greg Esparza, who is on desk duty pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation, called and told him to handle the call.
“Per (Martinez), stated he would not be going out but would do a supplemental report if needed,” the logs state.
According to the logs, Esparza then called Carlos, who told him “it would be good for (detectives) to go out and handle the call.”
Carlos said the case was handled by the patrol officers and there was no need for the investigations “side of the house” to intervene.