State police say a Tucumcari police officer assaulted his wife over text messages to another man.
Robert Vargas, a four year veteran of the Tucumcari Police Department was arraigned Monday morning in the Quay County Magistrate Court on the charge of aggravated assault and battery of a household member.
Vargas pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to court documents.
"Vargas was placed on paid administrative leave, effective Monday,” said Tucumcari Police Chief Jason Braziel.
New Mexico State Police Lt. Cleo Baker, said Vargas turned himself at 3:25 a.m., Saturday at the city police department. He was taken to the Quay County Detention Center, Baker said, and QCDC officials said he bailed out that morning on a $2,000 cash bond.
A warrant had been issued for Vargas’ arrest following an investigation of a domestic dispute call at 11:35 p.m., Friday at a residence on the 1700 block of South Jackson, Baker said.
“Tucumcari police officers were on scene but the case was turned over to state police as one of their officers were involved in the case,” said NMSP officer Marcus Lopez, in court documents.
Lopez said the victim told him Vargas, who she identified as her husband, pushed her to the floor of their bedroom, straddled her and began to punch her several times. He said the victim told him she was then moved to the bed where Vargas straddled her again and began hitting her on the face.
“A third party witnessed the assault and called the police,” Lopez said in court documents.
Lopez said he photographed bruising on both arms, her nose was swelling, she had cuts on two right hand fingers and a large red mark on her forehead.
Lopez said Vargas was not at the scene when police arrived.
Braziel said Vargas was not on duty at the time of the call.
Attempts to contact Vargas have been unsuccessful.