The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Detention officer files notice against city, county


May 24, 2018

CLOVIS - The detention officer briefly held hostage during the Feb. 1 standoff at the Curry County jail has filed a notice of tort claim against Curry County and the city of Clovis for "harassment, violation of due process and failure to follow policy and procedures," according to documents released to The News this week through an Inspection of Public Records Act request.

"It was clear that there was a hostage situation due to Detention Officer Sean Rowland was in a confined area and that Arrestee (Wesley) Flores was waving a gun and pointing it in the direction of Detention Officer Rowland," Jail Administrator Mark Gallegos wrote in an incident report from the time.

The tort claim notice was filed April 30.

Gallegos said in his report that Rowland, who was preparing to start a pre-booking patdown of Flores inside a vestibule at the jail, was retrieved from the small room within four minutes of Flores producing a pistol that hadn't been located during an earlier patdown by the arresting Clovis Police Department officer. An hours-long standoff ensued with Flores pointing the gun at himself alone in the vestibule, ending when he shot himself in the face and officers breached the room and brought him to a hospital.

Flores is recovering from the incident and faces pending charges.

Rowland was seen by the fire department's peer counseling team after the incident and was still employed Wednesday as a detention officer, Gallegos told The News.

The tort claim notice is required within 90 days of an incident, said City Attorney Dave Richards, who explained that a potential claimant has about two years to file a lawsuit.

Richards had no additional comment on the matter but to say the notice was received and that the city in turn had notified its insurance company.

"It's a notice of intent that they may file a suit at some point in the future. It's just to make sure that the government body has notice of a potential claim that may exist," he said. "The city hasn't done anything beyond that."

County Attorney Steve Doerr said he could not comment on any pending claim, and County Manager Lance Pyle said the county does not comment on threatened litigation.

Rowland's attorney Christian Christensen, of Portales, did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

The tort claim notice also requested all incident reports, video and audio and other documentation pertaining to the incident.


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