New Castle police officer charged with harassment
A New Castle police officer was arrested Tuesday and charged with domestic violence, harassment, violation of a restraining order and third degree trespassing.
Brian Dominguez was taken into custody Tuesday. New Castle Police Chief Tony Pagni said Dominguez has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
Rifle police officers first responded to a call from Dominguez’s ex-wife Aug. 7 at about 10:53 a.m., though she showed police text messages spanning three weeks, according to the affidavit.
According to the text messages, the woman asked Dominguez to bring her daughter’s cheerleading uniform to their usual meeting spot, but he had insisted on bringing it to the woman’s home.
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The woman told police she did not want Dominguez at her home, that he hadn’t been there recently, and that she had never given him her address. The two had recently divorced but agreed to exchange custody of their children at a local convenience store.
The woman again stated she would meet Dominguez at the “usual location” and additionally offered to drive her daughter to his house or to the New Castle Police Department to retrieve the clothing.
According to the affidavit, he again insisted on dropping it off at her home. The woman responded, “You don’t even know where I live,” and he answered by listing her current address. Shortly thereafter, he responded again by saying he had left the cheerleading uniform on her doorstep.
Rifle Police Officer Stephanie Straw, who handled the investigation, said Dominguez’s ex-wife was crying and visibly upset when Straw arrived at the home. The woman said she filed a previous grievance after Dominguez sent her a text message saying, “The only thing that’ll put a smile on my face from you is your death certificate.”
The woman told Straw that she is afraid of the suspect and that the text messages are becoming more frequent.
She also told the officer she thinks “nothing happens” because Dominguez is a police officer, adding, he used his position of authority to frighten her by visiting her home, according to the affidavit.
The next day, the woman filled out a witness statement at the Rifle Police Department. During that visit, she showed Officer Straw 11 more text messages from Dominguez and said she hadn’t responded, according to the affidavit.
On Aug. 13, officers learned about a restraining order protecting the woman from Dominguez. Police say in court documents, the Rifle Police Department has helped handle five other incidents involving Dominguez and his ex-wife this year.
Dominguez told Officer Straw, a recent brain virus had caused him to act differently “and not like himself.” He told Straw he couldn’t recall any of the alleged events. He also said he had hurt himself during a foot pursuit and that he was heavily medicated.
According to the affidavit, he denied ever visiting the woman’s home but then later said he left the cheerleading outfit at his ex-wife’s residence because he didn’t want her to always “get her way.”
In response to the death certificate statement, Dominguez told the officer he had recently been at a homicide scene and had overheard someone mention how painful it was to witness someone’s name on a death certificate. He maintained it was not a threatening statement and said he and his ex-wife said hurtful things to one another during arguments.
Shortly after his interview with the investigating officer, the ex-wife called Straw and said Dominguez had sent her another text message, violated their restraining order.
He was arrested and advised of the conditions of the protective order, which states he’s not allowed any contact with the victim, with “no exceptions,” according to court papers.
He told Officer Straw his protective order “says something different.”
He was transported to Garfield County Jail and placed in custody. He has since been released.
Shortly after his arrest, his father visited the Rifle Police Department to report allegations of child abuse against the victim. According to officers, “The report was deemed unfounded.”
On Aug. 8, New Castle Police Chief Tony Pagni was informed of the allegations and investigation involving Dominguez.
“After viewing all information associated, I placed Corporal Brian Dominguez on paid administrative leave of absence pending an internal affairs investigation for possible policy violations,” he said. “The situation is ongoing.”
Dominguez is not currently listed as an employee on the New Castle Police Department website; however, his job description on LinkedIn says, “Still employed by the town of New Castle.”
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The coronavirus threat delayed the opening of developed campgrounds in the Roaring Fork, Fryingpan and Crystal valleys. The Forest Service will phase them back in by June 12.