ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Six months before Omaree Varela was allegedly kicked to death by his mother, APD officers came very close to learning about the abuse the 9-year-old boy was suffering through.
Officers Gil Vigil and Scott McMurrough were assigned to investigate an open line 911 call at the family home, meeting up with Synthia Varela-Casaus and Steve Casaus.
On that call, Casaus, the boy’s step-father, berates and verbally abuses Omaree.
Dispatchers asked the officers to listen to the call, which neither Vigil nor McMurrough did.
“I haven’t heard the recording of it,” Vigil is heard saying on lapel video to the parents. “But they’re stating it sounded pretty violent.”
However, the parents’ denials were convincing enough for the officers.
“We appreciate you being honest,” Vigil said. “You guys you seem like a good family, decent family.”
No report was written and neither officer listened to the call.
In a letter from APD Chief Gorden Eden dated April 2, 2014, with the subject line “FINAL DECISION TO DISCIPLINE”, Eden informs Vigil he’s being fired.
That letter cites six separate policy violations stemming from the officers’ actions during that call.
APD declined to answer questions on the letter.
“The discipline process for Scott McMurrough and Gil Vigil has not been completed,” said APD spokesperson Tasia Martinez in a statement sent to News 13 Wednesday evening.
Vigil is expected to appeal the firing decision.
“I don’t believe if this was any other case that they would’ve terminated him,” said Sam Bregman, Vigil’s attorney. “They have no grounds, no justification to terminate him.”
Bregman says his client did everything he was supposed to do while investigating the call.
“Rather than wait and listen to a 911 tape, he went into the scene and saw what was going on and made a judgment call together with his partner that there wasn’t any child abuse,” Bregman said.
Bregman accuses APD of firing Vigil to distract from the department’s problems.
“For them to do this is just throwing a sacrificial lamb under the bus so that they can look good in the media like they’re trying to do something,” Bregman said.