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Video, EPPD Internal Investigation reveals officers improper behavior

By Matt Dougherty
Published On: May 07 2013 05:26:31 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 07:26:45 PM CST

Reporter: Matt Dougherty

EL PASO, Texas -

The truth is on the tape.


The El Paso Police Department's Westside Regional Command Station's surveillance video shows the crash that captured headlines for days.


Surveillance video obtained through an ABC-7 I-Team investigation shows the personal vehicle driven by El Paso police officer Albert Machorro cutting off the Mercedes of former state Rep. Dee Margo on the night of Sept. 7, 2012.


The video shows Machorro beginning to turn into the parking lot of WRCS, then stopping abruptly midway through entering the lot.


Margo's Mercedes hits the back of Machorro's car, then follows the officer into the parking lot of the police station to survey the damage.


Margo said he believed the incident had been forgotten until he learned of a police report listing him as the suspect in a felony evading arrest case. Margo says he and the officer agreed no reportable damage had been caused to either vehicle.


"( I was) shock(ed). I thought, oh here we go. Political October surprise."
The police department's internal investigation obtained by ABC-7 concluded Machorro caused the crash in a fit of road rage after he stated Margo cut him off.


"On your statement, you acknowledge that you felt it was necessary to make Mr. Margo aware that he had nearly run you off the road," Police Chief Greg Allen wrote in Machorro's reprimand.


"You reentered the right lane that Mr. Margo was traveling in and slowed down, ultimately leading to the alleged vehicle contact..the evidence unequivocally established that you brought discredit to yourself and the department..."


The report states another officer who witnessed a portion of the exchange told a supervisor Margo was "defiant."


"I wasn't profane. I wasn't threatening. It was a Friday evening, I was on my way home."


The description Machorro gave fellow officers that night include facts that cannot be found on the tape.


Machorro claimed he waved for Margo to stop as he was driving away.
The video shows Machorro standing in place, waiting for Margo to drive away, as he passes in front of the officer.


Machorro then casually walks up to the entrance of the police station.
The internal investigation found Machorro's claims were false.


Machorro's punishment was a five-hour suspension.
"I wasn't out for anybody's scalp or blood, or anything else," Margo said. "All I wanted to do was correct the record, and deep down I'd like to know why this occurred the way it did."


Two supervisors also got letters of reprimand for the department's mishandling of the case.


Instead of sending the case up the ladder for review, the report states Lts. Ricardo Medina and Andrietta Baca let the case sit for more than a month.


Sgt. Louis Johnson told detectives during the internal investigation that he had warned Medina, his boss, that pursuing a case was wrong.


"Lt. Medina was pushing for evading arrest with a motor vehicle (a felony)," Johnson said. "I respectfully advised him that he was going in the wrong direction and he told me to 'do what I was told to do.' I believed then and now that the criminal case was inappropriate..."


Margo was never charged with the felony and cleared of any wrongdoing, but the damage to his campaign had been done.


The police report was enough to cause a distraction during the heated race.


"I didn't win the election," Margo said. "But whether or not this was a contributing factor, who knows?"

 

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