Detective Makes $25 Million Demand Against Los Alamos County – Council Files Legal Action Requesting He Return to Work

UPDATE: Santa Fe Attorney John Day of Egolf + Ferlic + Day, LLC is representing Det. Brian Schamber. Day practices in criminal defense, civil litigation and government misconduct/civil rights litigation. He told the Los Alamos Daily Post that he is asking the community to withhold judgment of his client and will present important information in the case later today. Check back at for this information.
Los Alamos Police Det. Brian Schamber at a County Council work session in 2012 in the White Rock Fire Station. Photo by Carol A. Clark/
Los Alamos Daily Post

Los Alamos County Council filed a complaint May 17 for a declaratory judgment against a local police detective in United States District Court, District of New Mexico.

According to the facts of the complaint obtained by the Los Alamos Daily Post, Los Alamos Police Det. Brian Schamber suffers from bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. The complaint, filed through attorneys Brennan & Sullivan, P.A. for the County Council, describes overt acts and statements made by Schamber that suggest he may be a danger to the public.

Behavior displayed by Schamber that led to his being sent to the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute, a state operated psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas, New Mexico, began on or about August of 2012, according to the complaint. Schamber was prescribed mood stabilization and anxiety medication, which he stopped taking Oct. 6, 2012, when he became upset because a pharmacy only prescribed him a partial refill of a prescription rather than a full refill.

On Dec. 21, 2012, Schamber had an appointment with his psychiatrist, and according to the complaint said, “why it seemed like I was evil and always had thoughts of harming other people.” He told his psychiatrist he had stopped taking his medication, according to the complaint.

Later on Dec. 21, 2012, Schamber was patrolling on duty with another police officer and saw a man unloading items from the back of an SUV. Schamber steered their patrol car toward the man and then away saying, “right in the kneecaps, that would be funny.” Also according to the complaint, Schamber told his patrol partner that same day that he was planning to leave his gun at home the following week because he was going back on his medication and that the last time he went on medications he had had thoughts that he wanted to hide in the bushes on Longview Drive and hit people in the head with a metal bat.

Schamber’s statements to his psychiatrist and patrol partner were reported up through the chain of command and at the end of his shift Schamber was asked to go to Los Alamos Medical Center to be examined, which he agreed to do, according to the complaint. 

After his examination and a consultation with his psychiatrist, it was determined that an emergency mental health examination was necessary. Schamber was transported to NMBHI Dec. 22, 2012, where he remained for several days, was examined and discharged. According to the complaint, Los Alamos County claims that Schamber is not prohibited from possessing a firearm because he was “temporarily hospitalized” but not “formally committed” to NMBHI.

Following his discharge from NMBHI, Schamber underwent a fitness for duty examination with independent psychologist Susan Cave who concluded he was fit for duty as a police officer, according to the complaint, and the County asked him to return to work but he refused.  

Schamber’s lawyers have made a $25 million demand to Los Alamos County claiming that he is prohibited from possessing a firearm, and as a result, he can no longer work as a police officer. The lawyers claim that Schamber is prohibited from possessing a firearm pursuant to a state statute after having been sent for evaluation at NMBHI. The County disagrees, according to the complaint and wants him to return to work.

According to the complaint, Schamber is working from home and the County is paying him his full salary and benefits as a police officer, but he is not performing the standard duties of a police officer.

“The attorney for the County are taking the appropriate steps to make sure all appropriate avenues are open to Mr. Schamber,” Los Alamos County Attorney Rebecca Ehler said.

Los Alamos County Administrator Harry Burgess said in an interview late today that he cannot comment because the Federal Magistrate has sealed the case at the request of the respondent.


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