By Carlos Padilla
Former Sierra County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Thomas Mosier of Elephant Butte is seeking to have his name and employment record cleared after what he characterizes as a wrongful termination in the wake of an injury he sustained several weeks ago.
Mr. Mosier penned a letter to Sierra County Manager Bruce Swingle and Human Resources Director Janette Monsibaiz in mid-September, and provided a copy of the correspondence to local reporters.
In that letter, dated Sept. 12, Mosier addresses his wrongful termination from the Sierra County Sheriff’s Department, stating that he had submitted and received a request for a copy of his personnel records maintained by the sheriff’s department and county administration. Mosier made those records available to The Herald as well – providing reporters with an extremely rare glimpse into the personnel records of a public employee. Had the records not been provided by the subject of said personnel records, legalities would prohibit the press from reporting on such matters.
In his correspondence to county administration, Mr. Mosier addressed a letter in his personnel file from the Sierra County Sheriff’s Department, signed by then-Chief Deputy Julian Diaz, “falsely accusing me of ‘insubordination,’” Mosier stated.
Mr. Mosier began working as a Reserve Deputy and Special Deputy with the sheriff’s department in April, conducting civil process duties full time without pay. Mosier told The Herald that deputies who serve civil process – including writs, summons and subpoenas – have the same authority as paid deputies.
Special deputies, as well as full time paid deputies, are often charged with the transfer of prisoners, Mosier stated.
In June, Mosier states he read an advertisement published locally for an opening for a full time paid deputy, and contacted Sheriff Joe Baca, asking if he should apply for the job. Mosier states that Sheriff Baca told Mosier that he should apply for the position. At the time, Mosier says Sheriff Baca was in Colorado and the two men were corresponding via text message.
Mosier did apply for the position and was hired on July 14 as a full time paid deputy for the sheriff’s department. At that time, Mosier states he was told he had one year to earn certification as a law enforcement officer by the State of New Mexico.
Reviewing his meticulous records, Mosier states that he and other officials with the sheriff’s department partook in firearms qualifications during daytime hours on Thursday, July 24, at a nearby shooting range. That evening, at approximately 9 p.m., Mosier and several others participated in nighttime firearms qualifications at the same location.
Mosier reveals that he had sustained an injury to his knee the previous weekend, when he twisted his leg. On the evening of July 24, Mr. Mosier says that he stepped on a rock and twisted his knee.
Another deputy transported Mosier to the Emergency Room at Sierra Vista Hospital to have his injury evaluated and treated. Before he was transported from the shooting range, Mosier states that Chief Deputy Diaz contacted Sheriff Baca by cell phone to inform him of the incident. Mosier states that Diaz told him that Sheriff Baca instructed Mosier not to file his injury under workman’s compensation due to the previous week’s incident making it a preexisting condition.
Mosier states that he agreed with this assessment, adding, “I have my own insurance due to my 30-year military career. I know how Workman’s Comp works. It wouldn’t have kicked in until after the fifth day. Besides, my insurance was more than enough.”
Mr. Mosier says that his follow-up appointment took place on Tuesday, July 29, and he was cleared to return to work at the sheriff’s department on Aug. 4, with strict orders to stay off his leg in the interim.
Mosier told The Herald that Diaz advised him to report to county administration and provide an incident report regarding his injury on the shooting range.
Mosier provided further documentation from the county, stating that he was told the application for workman’s compensation was needed by county administration – despite his wishes against filing, and against the expressed wishes of Sheriff Baca via Chief Deputy Diaz. Mosier states that he advised HR Director Monsibaiz of this, and was told that they were needed nonetheless.
In a letter to County Manager Swingle, Chief Deputy Diaz claims that Mr. Mosier was “provided with the documentation for a work-related injury” on Thursday, July 31.