Officials: More than one officer will face disciplinary action (updated)

David Stevens: Freedom editor

More than one officer will face disciplinary action in connection with Sunday morning’s Curry County jail escape, and at least one has already been placed on paid administrative leave, county officials said.

Interim jail administrator Tori Sandoval said Narcizo Soto Jr., 35, should never have been allowed to participate in the work detail that provided his chance to flee because of his alleged violent history.

“It was a violation (of jail policy),” Sandoval said. “He should not have been out by (any) means.”

County Manager Lance Pyle said Monday night the investigation into the incident is not complete, but at least one jail officer is on paid leave pending its outcome.

Undersheriff Wesley Waller said Soto and two other inmates were stripping a floor in the jail’s administrative offices when the officer overseeing the inmates became distracted. Soto, awaiting trial on allegations he fired two bullets into a car where an 8-year-old child was seated, ran out an unlocked door to freedom.

Waller said Soto, who also is being held on a federal narcotics warrant, was recaptured Sunday night without incident at the house of a relative on the 1300 block of Hinkle Street.

Sandoval said Soto was immediately placed in an isolation cell and “red tagged,” meaning he will be heavily guarded the remainder of his days at the jail. He will be accompanied by two officers and a supervisor armed with a taser anytime he leaves the isolation cell, she said. He will also be cuffed, shackled and chained when outside his cell, she said.

“I’m very upset about this whole deal,” Sandoval said. “There will be changes.”

Among them: More high-ranking officers will be in the facility and Sandoval will personally sign off on any inmate allowed to work outside their pod, she said. Also, stricter standards will be applied to inmates who qualify for work detail.

Sandoval declined to say exactly how officers would be disciplined.

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