A settlement is likely coming soon in the civil case between the family of a 15-year-old boy tased by former Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Barnes and the Board of County Commissioners, though the agreement’s details may never become public.
A sealed hearing to approve the settlement before Judge Francis Mathew is set for Feb. 10, and the boy’s attorney Shannon Kennedy said she will try to keep the deal confidential indefinitely to protect the privacy of her client—at the time an Española Valley High School student with special needs.
Settlements in New Mexico through Risk Management are public record after six months. The pending agreement would also resolve the separately filed civil suit against Barnes himself and Sheriff James Lujan.
A grand jury indicted Barnes in November 2019 on criminal charges of abuse of a child, false imprisonment, aggravated battery, and violation of ethical principles of public service. Jury selection for the case is set for May.
In the course of arresting the child in May for alleged possession of a cannabis product, Barnes slammed the boy facedown onto a desk after he called the deputy a homophobic slur. While security guard Jack Romero grappled with the 15-year-old, Barnes tased the child in the chest, seemingly continuing to cycle his Taser X2 while Romero held the boy on the ground with his knee on his kneck.
The family’s September complaint alleged Lujan showed reckless disregard for public safety by placing Barnes as a school resource officer without properly training him on the role or the recently-issued Taser model. It also alleged Lujan should have known about Barne’s over decade-long history of disciplinary action while employed as a police officer and prison guard for violent or otherwise harassing behavior.
County Attorney Adan Trujillo declined to comment.