Yuma school resource officer Bobby Garcia has been permanently banned from working in law enforcement in the state of Arizona following his arrest for 28 felony charges of sexual conduct with a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, furnishing harmful items to minors, and tampering with evidence.
On December 6, 2019, Phoenix New Times reported that Garcia had resigned in June amid allegations that he had struck up a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Thirteen days later, on December 19, Garcia, who is 40, was arrested and booked into Yuma County jail.
On December 21, Garcia made his first appearance in Yuma Justice Court and was ordered to be held on a $100,000 bond. He posted the bond and is awaiting prosecution in Yuma Superior Court. In February, the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board voted unanimously to revoke Garcia's peace officer certification, meaning he will never again be able to work as a police officer in Arizona.
Garcia was placed on administrative leave in May 2019 after the department received a complaint that he had engaged in sexual conduct with a minor between 2017 and 2018. One month later, Garcia resigned, yet the Yuma Police Department's criminal investigation into its own officer continued.
During a November 20 AZPOST meeting, compliance specialist Steve Jacobs described the accusations against Garcia, who had been accused by the 17-year-old of having a sexual relationship with her. Garcia denied any personal or sexual relationship with the girl when interviewed, Jacobs said.
But information extracted from the girl's phone contradicted statements made by Garcia.
He had clearly been communicating with the teenager, phone records showed, and he had even asked her to send him a "video of her twerking," Jacobs said. Garcia asked the girl "for other pictures," according to the AZPOST board.
Phone records also showed that the teen once had brought the officer beer at his private residence.
The Yuma Police Department's criminal investigation into the matter was delayed by Garcia's refusal to provide the PIN for his cellphone. Garcia's phone was seized under a warrant, but by November neither the crime labs of the Department of Public Safety nor the FBI had been able to open and access the phone.
After the first AZPOST meeting on Garcia's case, the Secret Service unlocked Garcia's phone, compliance specialist Steve Jacobs said at a February 19, 2020, AZPOST meeting.
The Yuma Police Department said in a press release that their investigation includes "extensive forensic analysis of cell phone records and various forms of digital media."
A grand jury returned an indictment for 15 counts of sexual conduct with a minor, four counts of furnishing obscene material to a minor, one count of tampering with evidence, and nine counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.
Garcia was not assigned to one particular school; he worked as a Neighborhood School Resource Officer, meaning he filled in at schools that didn't have a school resource officer.
Garcia's attorney, Michael Donovan, did not respond to a voicemail and email seeking comment.
Yuma Police is asking anyone with information about the case to contact Sergeant Henry Valenzuela at 928-373-4701 or 928-78-CRIME to remain anonymous.
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