Police officer sues former Bernalillo police chief for hidden camera
BERNALILLO, NM (KRQE) — A female police sergeant claims she was targeted by her own police chief when he placed a hidden camera inside an air conditioning vent in her office. KRQE Investigates revealed this case last year. The police chief at the center of it all has since left the department and the female officer is now suing.
“We do secret squirrel bullshit,” a voice is heard during a hidden camera installation in November 2020. “Secret squirrel, huh?” Another voice is heard on the loudspeaker of a mobile phone.
There have been a few changes since KRQE Investigates exposed the 2020 hidden camera installation footage showing former Bernalillo Police Chief Broderick Sharp and his lieutenant Chris Stoyell installing a hidden camera inside a desk vent above a sergeant’s desk.
“It’s like the f*** CIA”, we heard during the installation of the camera. “When they get through your s, you won’t even know it.”
Since the original story aired, Torres said the impact has been both “negative and positive; I will be honest with you. I mean, let’s start with the positive. This motivated me to finish my studies. I went to human resources school.
Bernalillo’s former police sergeant, Monica Torres, is now a Torrance County deputy. In a lawsuit filed this week against the city of Bernalillo, its police department and Broderick Sharp, Torres claims he suffered retaliation, a privacy breach and was wrongfully terminated by the BPD.
When asked how Sharp treated her after she filed a complaint with the state police about the hidden camera, Torres replied, “I was demoted, then fired within a month.”
New Mexico State Police launched a voyeurism investigation into Sharp for installing a hidden camera, but no criminal charges were ever filed and the investigation was closed.
“It’s a shared office space,” Sharp told state police investigators. “It’s not a private office.”
Torres said she never found out what, if anything, the surveillance footage from her office was used for. “They never say exactly why they did it,” Torres said.
Bernalillo’s city clerk would not comment on the lawsuit, but she told KRQE by phone that Sharp retired a few months ago. Sharp’s former lieutenant, seen during the installation of the hidden camera, is now Bernalillo’s police chief.
In addition to leading the hidden camera installation, Torres said Sharp also filed complaints against her with the state’s Law Enforcement Academy Board regarding cases she handled before Sharp joined BPD. “They found out the drop was made in retaliation,” Torres said.
An LEA Hearing Officer’s report states, “I believe the Respondent has been targeted for disciplinary action, with foreign complaints and the LEA 90 case….” “The hearing officer’s findings regarding this incident should be withdrawn from the Commission’s consideration due to the appearance of retaliation,” the report continues.
A separate letter from the state’s Department of Workforce Solutions Office of Human Rights agrees that Torres faced discrimination, noting that she was downgraded two ranks from sergeant to police officer. by Sharp in one case.
“Their findings are vindication,” Torres told KRQE News 13. The whole experience was both traumatic and motivating, she added.
She said she still had trust issues and instinctively checked the vents. However, Torres added that she tries to focus on the positive and enjoys being a police officer in Torrance County.
Torres said she was working on completing a master’s degree in organizational psychology and human resources. She hopes to use her new degree to help educate other law enforcement officers about their rights.
“Instead of loving the right system and working for each other’s benefit, maybe they should learn more and work for what’s right, not just for themselves,” Torres said.
“Especially when it comes to employment law,” Torres said. “Having the skills and knowledge to be able to defend myself or someone else if I see something wrong,” is important to her, she said.
A special prosecutor who handled the voyeurism case told KRQE News 13 that he would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had been committed.
Sharp told state police investigators he wanted the camera installed because he heard there had been robbery and fighting issues in the office. He said he called the city’s IT department to upgrade BPD’s surveillance system and specifically requested a camera with audio for the sergeant’s office.
Sharp could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit.