Deputy remembered as professional throughout
Last updated 1/10/2022 at 4:05pm
CLOVIS - Bryan Vannatta was a third-generation law enforcement officer, and Curry County Sheriff Wesley Waller said it showed with every shift and every assignment.
"He was outstanding, very reliable," Waller said of Vannatta, who died Monday in Rio Rancho from COVID-19 complications at age 34. "He was a seasoned officer, and knew how to handle almost any situation. He grew up in this area, and knew most everybody here. He was very well received by the public and treated everybody fairly and with respect."
Charles Bryan Vannatta was born Feb. 4, 1987, in Clovis. He grew up in the Texico community and attended Texico schools for 12 years. After high school, he got his start in law enforcement with the U.S. Border Patrol. About five years into that field, Vannatta decided he'd rather be closer to home, and Waller was happy to see that application cross his desk after working with two previous generations of the family.
The late Leslie Vannatta - Bryan's grandfather - was a longtime FBI agent serving in the Clovis area, and father Charlie Vannatta worked for both the sheriff's office and the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.
The youngest Vannatta, Waller said, knew the job well and was one of those deputies you could send on a mission and know it would be taken care of.
Vannatta was married in 2015 to Christina, who he met while on duty, and the desire to spend more time with her and sons Kayden and Aydan prompted a move to the Texico Police Department.
Waller said Vannatta returned to the sheriff's office about six months ago, and returned to an office that had such a shortage Charlie Vannatta returned to help out and a father-and-son shift transpired during a handful of days their terms overlapped.
"That was special for us," Waller said, "and very special for both of them in their careers to get to work together."
Following Vannatta's death, a deputy brought Vannatta's squad car to Rio Rancho and provided the family an escort back to Clovis. That escort grew on the trip back as other departments took part. Flags have been flown at the courthouse in Vannatta's honor and his service vehicle remained parked in front of the Curry County Courthouse this past week. Waller said the outpouring of support to the office and the family has been overwhelming.
"It's been very comforting, the number of people who have reached out to us and offered assistance. We very much appreciate it."
Waller told The News the last Curry County deputy to die while employed by the office was Dustin Davis, who died in 2018.