San Luis police lieutenant arrested for alleged stalking
SAN LUIS, Ariz. — A lieutenant in the San Luis Police Department faces multiple felony charges for allegedly stalking a woman over an eight-month period in 2011.
Police Lt. Gerardo Torres, 41, was arrested Thursday by the Yuma County Sheriff's Office on suspicion of stalking, illegal imprisonment and misconduct with weapons.
Torres' arrest came following an investigation requested by the San Luis Police Department, which had learned of allegations by a 19-year-old woman that the 11-year police officer was stalking her and had detained her during an illegal traffic stop.
Apart from the criminal investigation, Torres is under an administrative investigation by the police department. He has been placed on administrative leave with pay.
“I am saddened because of what happened, but I would like to thank our community for maintaining its trust and confidence in the San Luis Police Department during difficult times like this one,” Police Chief Eddie Munoz said in a news release. “I assure the community that we hold our staff accountable for their actions, and that we will review all facts thoroughly to guarantee that justice is served.”
In his initial appearance in San Luis before Yuma County Justice of the Peace Jorge Lozano on Friday, bond for Torres was set at $37,500.
According to court records, the unidentified woman said that from May 2011 to Jan. 2, Torres sought her out and contacted at her place of employment almost daily. Even after she asked him to leave her alone, she said, he followed her to her home.
And while on duty on Oct. 31, she said, Torres detained her during an illegal traffic stop to ask her why she was not returning his phone calls.
The woman did not attend Friday's court session, but a representative of Amberly's Place appeared on her behalf to read a statement that she had written: “I am afraid of (Torres). He frightened me when he followed me at night as I was leaving work. I don't want him to have any contact with me. I am afraid he would do something to me, to my family or to someone who has witnessed everything.”
The Yuma County Attorney's Office has sought a $100,000 bond for Torres, saying the officer poses the risk of fleeing to Mexico, where he has a home and relatives and where he attends a church.
Lozano, however, rejected that argument, saying that Torres has no prior arrests and that he has his home and his family on this side of the border, in San Luis, Ariz.
“Almost all of us in Yuma County have some link with Mexico,” Lozano said. “But I don't use that as a factor. Nobody would get out of jail (on bond) if I used that as a factor for releasing people.”
Torres had asked the judge to be released from jail. “I want to be with my family. If you put me in jail, who is going to pay the bills in my house? I may have lost my job because of this incident. That doesn't matter. I can find another job, but I need to have a job to pay my bills and support my wife and children.”
Lozano set Torres' bond at $37,500, and ordered that he not leave the state, that he appear at all court proceedings, that he surrender all firearms and that he stay away from the victim.
At the request of the county attorney's office, he ordered Torres to avoid all McDonald's restaurants. Court records and testimony did not explain why that restriction was sought.