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Farmington officer charged with DWI, with two small children in car

Robert Shuttleworth’s BAC was triple the legal limit, police say
Farmington Police Officer Robert James Shuttleworth was arrested Feb. 15 on a drunken driving charge.

A Farmington Police officer was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated with two minor children in the car after almost hitting a car driven by Bloomfield Deputy Police Chief Randon Matthews.

Robert James Shuttleworth, 29, of Farmington, went to work for the Farmington Police Department in 2018, and was a decorated officer, earning the Officer of the Quarter on June 2, 2022, from Police Chief Steve Hebbe.

Shuttleworth, however, is on paid administrative leave after he was arrested Feb. 15 and charged with aggravated DWI.

“The charges are deeply concerning and do not represent the values we uphold,” Hebbe said in a prepared statement. It noted that Shuttleworth was off-duty when the incident happened.

Hebbe apologized to the community.

“We take these matters very seriously, and I am deeply disappointed this occurred,” he said. “We are relieved that there were no reported injuries.”

“This incident does not reflect the values and dedication of the men and women who serve the citizens of Farmington every day,” Hebbe said, adding that the department “holds its employees to the highest standards of conduct, both on and off duty.”

The charges stem from the incident in which a San Juan County Sheriff’s deputy found Shuttleworth behind the wheel of a 2015 Jeep Cherokee at 6:13 p.m. Feb. 15 “near the side of the road near Road 3157 on NM 516,” according to the statement of probable cause.

That was 11 minutes after Deputy Chief Matthews called dispatch, “stating a white Jeep Cherokee which had been traveling west bound almost struck him,” according to the statement of probable cause.

Matthews also stated the vehicle came “across the median, almost striking his vehicle,” and he “had to swerve to avoid colliding with the vehicle and noticed (the vehicle) strike a ditch on the south side of the road,” the document said.

Matthews reported seeing “a large cloud of dust due to how fast the vehicle was going and he was not able to stop,” the records state.

When deputies made contact with Shuttleworth, they noticed there was a “strong odor of an intoxicating liquor emitting from his person as he exited the vehicle,” the records state.

Shuttleworth was described as having “bloodshot, watery” eyes and “was also stumbling over his feet to the point that we had to physically control him, so he did not fall,” the deputy wrote in his report.

Shuttleworth reportedly told the deputy he was not heading home and stated that he did not want to perform a field sobriety test, the report states. He did however submit to a Breathalyzer test, which was given at the San Juan County Detention Center shortly after 7 p.m. It came back .27g/210L and .26g/210L, which more than triple the legal limit of .08g.

Shuttleworth reportedly was driving drunk with “two small children buckled in the back seat,” according to the statement of probable cause.

San Juan County Sheriff’s Capt. Kevin Burns said there was a 4-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy in the car, and they must have been secured in seat belts or car seats, “or we would have cited for that.”

A Sheriff’s Office deputy and Aztec Police officers ensured “the small children inside the vehicle were OK. EMS was called for the children,” according to the statement of probable cause.

Prior to 2019, a suspected drunken driver faced a charge of child abuse for having a child in the car, but the New Mexico State Legislature passed a new law making it a misdemeanor, if the child “does not suffer great bodily injury,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O’Brien.

“We used to charge every DWI with a child in the car as child abuse,” O’Brien said. The 2019 law makes it a misdemeanor offense of driving while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle, when the child is younger than 13.

However, if a child is 13 to 17 years old, it would be considered a felony child abuse charge. “We just stopped charging child abuse,” O’Brien said.

Shuttleworth was charged with aggravated DWI (first offense), leaving the scene of an accident, two counts driving while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle and failure to maintain traffic lane.

He was booked into the San Juan County Detention Center.

He was released the next day on his own recognizance and was ordered to not consume alcohol, marijuana or illegal drugs.

A pretrial hearing has been set for 8 a.m. March 28 in Magistrate Russel Bradford’s courtroom.

Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe awarding Officer Robert Shuttleworth with the Officer of the Quarter award on June 2, 2022. Farmington Police Department