August 24th, 2023
ROCKY FORD, Colo. (KRDO) - A former Rocky Ford Police Officer was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing guns and prescription drugs from cases where he worked. Now, his romantic partner is accusing him of being part of a gang.
In June 2022, former officer George Ibarra responded to a domestic violence case as an officer with the Rocky Ford Police Department. According to court documents, the suspect, Nicholas Kekoa Smith, was arrested and charged with illegally discharging a firearm.
After the arrest, Ibarra confiscated a gun, but according to body camera video from that case, he also took the victim's backpack with a 9mm gun, a gun holster, ammunition, prescription drugs, and other miscellaneous items, and placed it in his police car.
About six months after the incident, the victim of the domestic violence case called the police department asking for her backpack and items back. According to arrest documents, the police chief said he couldn't find them.
The victim filed a police report with the Otero County Sheriff's Office, which referred the case to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations due to a conflict of interest. During the investigation, Rocky Ford Police Chief Sean McDonagh told investigators a gun in another case involving Ibarra was also missing.
Ibarra's romantic partner at the time told investigators what happened according to the arrest document. She said Ibarra stored the guns in his car before moving them to her closet near the end of May 2023. She took pictures of the guns and gave them to investigators before she said Ibarra got rid of the guns at the Headgates in La Junta.
A stolen Smith and Wesson was also later found at Ibarra's romantic partner's house that was part of a previous case.
His romantic partner told investigators she was coming forward because she was afraid of Ibarra and accused him of being in a gang. She said he told her "he would take her down with him."
The arrest documents said during an interview with investigators, Rocky Ford officers said Ibarra was known to leave evidence "strewn about the office." Ibarra was never disciplined despite the former police chief Anglelo Griego knowing evidence was missing from cases he was a part of, according to the court documents.
Ibarra quit from the Rocky Ford Police Department in September 2022. He told investigators he remembered seizing guns from the domestic violence case in June but said the agency didn't have an evidence custodian at the time. He said one of the reasons he left was "possible liability issues with some of the practices the department has with evidence." According to the arrest document, he "refused to enter the actual evidence room because he never wanted to be accused of something like this."
The Rocky Ford Police Department, the Otero County Sheriff's Office, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigations all declined, saying the case was still an active investigation.
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