'I want my name cleared': Tommy Rodella victim recounts experience

Posted at: 08/15/2014 7:22 PM
Updated at: 08/15/2014 7:29 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

ESPANOLA -- KOB's Ryan Luby interviewed Michael Tafoya, the victim of Rio Arriba Co. Sheriff Tommy Rodella and his son's wild chase and alleged beating, in March, and his explanation of what transpired during the events that led to Rodella's indictment and Friday arrest matches legal documents exactly.

Tafoya told KOB all along he had no idea who was chasing after him in a non-police Jeep that day, and that he didn't recognize the two men until they had pinned him to the ground.

"I saw him jump out of the car with a gun in his hand," Tafoya recounted about his run in with the Rodellas.

Tafoya found himself cornered at the end of a dirt road, and said he thought the case of road rage was going to turn deadly for him.

"By the time I knew it, he opened my door and he jumped in with me," Tafoya said. "We were wrestling with the gun and I was begging him not to kill me."

KOB talked to Tafoya in June on the same day the FBI raided Sheriff Rodella's home.

"He goes up to me while I'm on the ground, grabs me by my hair, and says 'Here's my badge mother [expletive].' And he slapped me across the face with the badge."

Tafoya's family says they're relieved with Rodella's arrest, as are other Espanola residents.

"If he did something wrong, you know that justice is done, because if you do wrong, it needs to be done – justice needs to be done," said Francis Diaz, an Espanola resident.

"I don't want that kind of thing hanging on my shoulder," Tafoya said. "I want to live my life again. I want my name cleared."