The Pueblo Chieftain (Colorado)
BYLINE: Ryan Severance, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.
The Las Animas City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to dismiss Police Chief Don Trujillo effective immediately.
Trujillo came under attack after his handling of an incident last month in which an older juvenile male allegedly pointed a gun at elementary school students.
Brandi Ronquillo, a mother of one of the elementary school students who allegedly had the gun pointed at him, told the council that the police never told her there was a juvenile on the playground with a gun, but rather she was told by her child that day.
“The investigation should have been made right away,” Ronquillo said. “That the investigation began days after the incident occurred shows that the incident was of no importance (to police).”
Matt Russell, a police officer speaking to the council on behalf of the police department, said the incident wasn’t reported to them until an hour after it occurred and stressed that there needs to be better communication between citizens and the police department.
The City Council, however, voted unanimously to keep Bent County Sheriff David Encinas as acting police chief.
Encinas was placed in the acting slot last week after Mayor Lawrence Sena put Trujillo on paid administrative leave.
Sena took the action as the investigation continued into the handling of the case involving the juvenile and the alleged gun-pointing incident on Feb. 24.
Last week, Jerry Nickell, superintendent of Las Animas School District RE-1, said the 14-year-old juvenile suspect, an unidentified Las Animas Middle School eighth-grader, was suspended pending board action on his potential expulsion.
In addition, the eighth-grader was arrested last week and released on bail.
It was not known Tuesday night whether the eighth-grader has been expelled or where the court case stands.
Should the board expel the student, he cannot attend any school for a year but can enroll in an online school, Nickell said.
Copyright 2012 The Pueblo Chieftain