Ricky Romero, a Taos County Sheriff's sergeant who has been fighting a Medicaid fraud case since 2018, accidentally fired his service weapon near a security kiosk in the Taos County Courthouse on Tuesday (March 3), according to Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe.
Updated March 4 at 8 p.m.
Ricky Romero, a Taos County Sheriff's sergeant who has been fighting a Medicaid fraud case since 2018, accidentally fired his service weapon near a security kiosk in the county courthouse on Tuesday (March 3), according to Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe.
"This negligent discharge obviously caused considerable alarm and concern for all staff and constituents that were present at the time," said the sheriff, adding that no one was injured by the round that was fired.
Hogrefe said Romero was unloading his weapon at a security lockbox near the court security desk. The barrel of the weapon was pointed into a trashcan when the gun went off. Hogrefe said the process of unloading a weapon would be unusual for one of his officers, who are not required to do so by any policy. Romero was at the courthouse for a hearing in his case on Tuesday and was not on duty.
"Proper procedure and visual inspection to assure the gun was unloaded was apparently not followed and it's fortunate that the handgun was pointed downward in a trashcan at the time," Hogrefe said and called the incident "a great embarassment for the sheriff's office."
"I apologize for this happening – it should not have. This was not intentional but is definitely a stark reminder that even with continued training, mistakes can still be made," he said.
Hogrefe plans to take steps to address the matter so that it would not happen again.
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