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Grand Jury took months to indict police officer for deadly hit-and-run

The El Paso Police officer accused in a deadly hit-and-run was arrested by sheriff’s deputies at police headquarters after a grand jury returned an indicted following a months-long investigation.

ABC-7 asked investigators: if the suspected vehicle was identified and recovered soon after the wreck, why did it take months to charge officer Roberto Garcia?

Garcia, an 18-year veteran with the department, was arrested and charged Thursday with accident involving death and tampering with evidence following the death of 37-year-old Eduardo Vasquez on New Year’s Day 2018.

“El Paso Police were notified as soon as we had the arrest warrant in hand,” said Sgt. Robert Rojas, with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Special Traffic Investigations Unit.

The El Paso Police Department relieved Garcia of duty after being told about the arrest warrant. Garcia was not fired, merely stripped of his peace officer status until the case is settled, a police spokesman told ABC-7.

Soon after the deadly hit-and-run, the sheriff’s office issued a statement asking for the public’s help locating the suspected car, a red 2014 Hyundai Elantra. The vehicle was found shortly thereafter with evidence linking it to the deadly hit-and-run, Rojas said.

“When we responded to the crash, originally, there was very limited information. We were able to obtain information about the type of vehicle it was and we were able to send that to the media to broadcast that we were looking for a vehicle and that’s actually how we came about the vehicle involved,” Rojas said.

Everything, Rojas said, started with finding the car in January.

“The vehicle is a big part of the evidence because it was what began the investigation and allowed us to get to where we ended up, and that would have only been possible with people watching the news, listening to the news, and helping us out with our investigation,” Rojas said.

Once the vehicle was recovered and its evidence examined, the sheriff’s office transferred its investigation over to the district attorney’s office, who took the case before a grand jury. Rojas would not say how long it took the grand jury to return an indictment against officer Garcia.

Garcia was booked under a $75,000 bond. Online jail records show he has since made bail.

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