BISBEE — After a video surfaced on YouTube revealing the actions between a former Bisbee animal control officer and a videographer at a public park earlier this summer, police launched an internal investigation accusing the officer of being “untruthful.”
The inquiry on former Bisbee animal control officer Dolores Luberto — which took six weeks to release — also claims that three Bisbee police officers responded to Vista Park in Warren on June 10 based on comments Luberto made when she called for help from her radio. But the investigation states that what Luberto relayed in her call did not reflect what police saw on the YouTube video.
The June 10 incident involved Lubverto responding to a citizen’s call regarding a rabid and injured skunk at the park’s tennis courts. When Luberto arrived, a videographer from a local blog, Bisbee News Network, began recording Luberto at the park. Luberto appeared to became agitated when she saw the man and asked him to leave, the video shows.
When he refused, she walked toward him, telling him to get in his car. She then called police for help on her radio, saying the man was interfering with her investigation. After she failed to answer her radio when dispatchers called her back at least twice, Bisbee Police officers responded to the park with lights and sirens activated.
Bisbee police officials however, saw the video of the incident on YouTube and accused Luberto of lying in her statement.
The police department opened an internal investigation against Luberto, but it’s not clear who conducted it. Bisbee City Manager Theresa Coleman told the Herald/Review in a recent email that the query was being handled by Bisbee Police Deputy Chief Joey Long. But all the names in the investigation — including Luberto’s — have been redacted.
Also, it’s unknown whether the three officers who responded to the scene that day to assist Luberto were investigated for their actions. The trio took the videographer for the news blog to the ground and handcuffed him behind his back after Luberto’s radio call.
According to the internal investigation, they arrested the man — whose name has not been released — charged him with interfering with government operations, then let him go, the Luberto investigation shows. There was no response Monday or Tuesday from either Coleman or Long, or Bisbee Police Chief Albert Echave after the Herald/Review emailed the officials asking about the three officers.
Echave also sent the investigation to the Cochise County Attorney’s Office. On Tuesday, County Attorney Brian McIntyre said his office is reviewing the matter, but he could not comment on the specifics of the review.
“The materials we were provided encompass the entire series of events and persons involved in those events,” McIntyre said in an email.
Luberto meanwhile, was placed on paid administrative leave soon after the skirmish occurred, but has since resigned. She could not be reached for comment on Monday.
The allegation lodged against her in the internal investigation — abuse of authority — was sustained. The individual who conducted the interview recommended that Luberto be fired.
“After reviewing the video, I noticed some discrepancies from what had been reported on scene and what she was advising over the radio when asking for officer’s assistance that day,” the investigation states.
“Those discrepancies were: The video never shows (the videographer) 2 -5 feet from (Luberto) as she indicated to officers on scene the day of the incident; the video never showed (the videographer) up in the face of (Luberto) as she indicated on the radio when she asked for officer’s assistance; the video showed (Luberto) approach (the videographer) and walk him back some distance while telling him to get back, but the video never shows him returning back to the culvert and coming right up to her while she was in the culvert as she reported to officers on scene the day of the incident,” according to the investigation documents.
”After reviewing the video and observing these discrepancies, the fact that officers based their response and enforcement actions on radio traffic from that day and statement she made on scene that day, I made the decision to conduct an internal investigation on (Luberto) for being untruthful,” the investigation states.
The investigation also says that Luberto called for assistance in a “frantic voice” but then did not respond to her radio when police dispatch called her back at least twice.
According to Bisbee City Attorney James Ledbetter, the entire inquiry totals over 700 pages. The Herald/Review was emailed 344 pages last week by the Bisbee city clerk’s office.
Assistant City Clerk Nina Williams said the items missing from what was sent included a diagram of the scene, six photos of the area where the incident occurred, witnesses “views,” and a Garrity warning. The warning is an advisement of rights that law enforcement gives to an employee who is the focus of an internal investigation.