The new, recent surge of bad cops making headlines are making it hard for the good ones out there who actually do their jobs well. A New Mexico sheriff is the newest of this bad crop of abusive police, The Raw Story reported.
Last Friday, 52-year-old former Rio Arriba County Sheriff Tommy Rodella was convicted on federal firearms charges, assault, and violation of a citizen’s civil rights in relation to an incident occurring this past March. Rodella faces 17 years in prison for the crimes.
Back in March, Rodella pulled over 26-year-old Michael Tafoya. Rodella was in plainclothes and in his personal, unmarked vehicle when he began to pursue Tafoya. Unaware that Rodella was an officer, Tafoya attempted to escape. Rodella and his son, who was also present, cornered Tafoya and forcefully removed him from his car.
Pinned to the ground by Rodella and his son, Tafoya saw that Rodella had his gun out and began begging for his life. Rodella Jr. said that the man with the gun is the sheriff, and when Tafoya asked to see a badge, former Sheriff Rodella repeatedly punched Tafoya in the face with his badge while saying “Here’s my badge, motherf*cker!”
Tafoya’s account was substantiated by three others who reported similar, overly-aggressive incidents involving Rodella. Two drivers reported tailgating by Rodella, and another reported Rodella throwing his badge at the driver. These accounts helped convince a jury that Rodella was violent and used excessive force.
“Today a federal jury found that in attacking an innocent civilian, Sheriff Rodella chose to abuse his power rather than uphold his oath to protect the public,” said U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez after Rodella’s conviction. “I commend the victim who testified in this case for having the courage to step forward and assert his civil rights, and for trusting the Department of Justice to protect him. I am hopeful that today’s verdict brings a measure of justice to the victim and the people of Rio Arriba County.”
Rodella was a rotten cop with a tarnished past. As a state police officer, Rodella was reprimanded for improper use of a weapon, falsifying official reports, and using his position for personal gain, among other wrongdoings.
Society needs police officers, but filthy cops like Rodella, Darren Wilson, and others give the good ones a bad name and makes their jobs more difficult because the actions of a few left a bad impression on society.