Former Mills Cop Charged for Abuse of Authority Sentenced to Probation
Earlier this year, a former Mills Police Officer pleaded guilty to the single felony count of deprivation of rights while he was acting under the color of law.
Today, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl sentenced Argel Sierra to five years of probation. He shall comply with all mandated conditions imposed including alcohol testing.
Sierra will be required to pay $1,646.10 restitution to the Wyoming Department of Victim's Services.
"This is one of those cases where what appears on the outside is nothing like what I have on the inside," said Skavdahl.
The view from 5,000 feet would be easy to sentence, but looking closer, Skavdahl said there are factors the court has to take into consideration to provide a just punishment.
During the hearing, Public Defender David Weiss spoke on the defendant's behalf, saying that he doesn't usually have clients like Sierra.
Sierra came to the United States from Cuba as a boy. Addressing the court, he said he lived there until he was 12. "I remember well [the] hunger, poverty; I know that side of life very well. My father brought us to the United Staes in 1995 and I always knew I would join the military to defend the rights we have in the United States."
As a young man, Sierra went into the Marines. Speaking on his behalf, Public Defender David Weiss told the judge that his client was deployed to Afghanistan, where two things indefinitely affected him: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a diagnosed traumatic brain injury -- which they believe was sustained in a helicopter fall and/or blunt force to the head with the butt of a rifle.
Weiss continued that because of culture at the time, Sierra did very little to deal with his PTSD and depression. Soon after moving to Wyoming he stopped receiving treatment. Weiss acknowleged that his defendant made a mistake, one that led him to the two-minute assault that would ruin his life.
"While out on duty at night in an intense situation, his fight or flight reflex was triggered -- and Mr. Sierra is a fighter, not a flighter. He overreacted" provided the defense.
Before handing down the sentence, Skavdahl stated, "Law enforcement not only have to enforce the law, but they have to abide by it," (and when they don't) "civilized society is destroyed."
"That moment of failing to abide by the law resulted in catastrophic consequences to your law enforcement career."