Los Alamos County and Los Alamos Police Department employee (Det.) Brian Schamber reached a settlement agreement Dec. 10.
Schamber had been evaluated by the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas, N.M. in December 2012 before being released and cleared for active duty as a police officer by a psychiatrist. Following his release, Schamber had continued to be employed by the County but working from home after stating that, because he had been evaluated at a mental health institution, he was now prohibited by federal law from carrying a firearm.
Los Alamos County disagreed, and requested that Schamber return to active patrol duty. In May, the County filed a request for declaratory judgment in federal court, asking the judge to rule that there was no federal prohibition against Schamber working as a police officer and carrying a gun.
The parties stipulated to a judgment that supported the County’s position. The settlement addresses a tort claim notice filed earlier this year by Schamber for $25 million, as well as a counter claim Schamber made against the County Council in July regarding a violation of civil and constitutional rights for an unspecified amount of compensation.
The County was represented in the settlement by Attorney James Sullivan (Brennan & Sullivan) and the New Mexico Self-Insurer’s Fund, an insurance pool of New Mexico municipalities and other political subdivisions, including the County, through an arrangement with the New Mexico Municipal League. Under the agreement, Schamber has agreed to resign from the County effective Dec. 15, 2013 and to surrender his state law enforcement certification. The New Mexico Self-Insurer’s Fund will pay $600,000 to Schamber. Of that amount, the County will pay $200,000.
The County agreed to the settlement in the sole interest of economic costs, including the time and expense of litigation, but denies any fault or wrongdoing.
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