Former Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s office deputy Jeremy Barnes entered a not guilty plea at his first appearance in court Monday for his May tasing of a 15-year-old Española Valley High School student with special needs.
First Judicial District Court Judge Jason Lidyard gave Barnes standard conditions of release, including barring him from possessing weapons, alcohol or drugs without a prescription and ordering no contact with witnesses or victims in the case.
Prior to Lidyard’s decision, Prosecutor Mark Probasco specifically requested that until trial Barnes be prohibited from possessing weapons or having any contact with witnesses in the case or minor children.
“The State is concerned about the Defendants’ lack of judgement in exercising weapons that are capable of causing harm or serious bodily injury to others,” Probasco said.
Defense Attorney Tom Clark asked to approach the bench to discuss the issue of firearm possession, and privately spoke with Lidyard and Probasco, but both this conversation and Probasco’s request on minor children seem to have been unsuccessful.
State Attorney General Hector Balderas charged Barnes in September with felony abuse of a child, false imprisonment, aggravated battery and violations of ethical principles of public service. A grand jury indicted Barnes on the charges in November.
Barnes’ lapel video of the May incident shows him arrive to a school office after the boy was brought in for allegedly possessing cannabis products. A security guard told Barnes the boy swung a backpack at her.
Barnes slammed the child—who was facing away from Barnes to be handcuffed—face down into a desk while saying “I’m going to f****** tase you” after the student turned his head and called the deputy a slur.
Egged on by security guard Jack Romero, who started struggling with the boy and partially pulled off his shirt, Barnes tased him in the chest seconds later. As the boy screamed on the ground and the taser continued to cycle, Romero held his knee on the child’s neck.
Clark said in an interview that he needs to review tapes of the grand jury hearings before he can comment further on the case.
“We are a long way from trial,” he said. “That video is a snapshot in time.”
In a November interview, Clark said the charges were not driven by justice.
“I don’t know what the political motivation may be, but my feeling is that Jeremy Barnes is being scapegoated,” he said. “Over and over and over again, the Attorney General’s Office declines to prosecute fatal police shootings and for whatever reason they’ve decided to target Mr. Barnes.”
He said the child was attacking a security guard and that Barnes appeared to act in a way consistent with his training and position as a law enforcement officer.
The boy’s family filed a civil rights violation complaint against Barnes and Sheriff James Lujan in September, as well as a tort claim against the Rio Arriba County Board of County Commissioners.
Barnes declined to comment as he walked away from the courtroom.