My name is Rhonda Edmondson and my husband is Sgt. Chris Edmondson, an 18-year veteran of the Raton, New Mexico Police Department.
I’ve sent you a photo of our family. It was taken just last Christmas.
That’s Chris holding our son, Aidin.
Aidin is four -- and so proud that his Daddy is “a police man who helps people.”
But if bureaucrats here in New Mexico have their way, Chris won’t be able to hold our little boy again for two years.
Because the New Mexico Attorney General is trying to throw Chris in jail.
Even though my husband is an innocent man!
Please, let me explain.
Chris is a decorated officer who has received the Gallantry Star, the Lifesaver Award, dozens of written commendations, and even helped capture one of America’s “Most Wanted” criminals.
Less then, two years ago, 4:15am, November 18, 2007, Chris and two other officers received a call for police to investigate a fight at a nearby house.
When they arrived, they found a 25-year old man named Jesse Saenz acting strangely.
Saenz was on all fours, yelling and screaming, and pulling up grass and throwing it. Before that, he had been slamming a chain link fence against cars in the driveway. Officer Leonard Baca started to escort Saenz to the patrol car. And that’s when things got ugly.
Saenz began fighting the officers -- who immediately handcuffed him. But Saenz became so violent that they couldn’t get him into the patrol car.
Saenz was wearing sharp-pointed boots and began kicking violently.
Chris and the other officers tried to pull them off his feet -- but couldn’t get close enough without getting kicked.
As the senior officer, Chris finally ordered the officers to “bump” Saenz with a taser gun.
The taser had absolutely no effect on Saenz. He kept yelling and kicking.
As Chris told me later, Saenz was “wildly out of control.”
Chris ordered the officers to taser Saenz again. But it still had no effect as he kept kicking and screaming at them.
Finally Chris managed to get the boots off Saenz and push him into the back seat of the squad car.
Amazingly, Saenz still managed to kick Officer Dominguez on the wrist, breaking his watch and injuring his wrist.
As they neared the station, Saenz finally stopped struggling. Officer Baca thought he had passed out.
But when they opened the door, they realized that Saenz wasn’t breathing.
An emergency crew performed CPR. But Saenz died on the way to the hospital.
Chris was devastated.
But he knows he did everything he could to protect his officers from a violent and dangerous suspect.
New Mexico police regulations clearly state that officers are authorized to use tasers on “violent persons under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.”
An autopsy revealed that Jesse Saenz had high levels of cocaine , nemzoylecgonine, cocaethylene and hydroxzione in his blood.
That explains why he was acting so wildly.
It even concluded that Saenz most likely died due to “cocaine intoxication.”
But Jesse Saenz’s family didn’t agree.
They accused Chris and the other officers of being “racist cops” who tasered Jesse Saenz because he was Hispanic...
...even though Officer Dominguez and Officer Baca are Hispanic themselves!
They painted their car windows with messages like "Justice for Jesse," "RIP Jesse” and “I'm Mexican, am I next?"
They held memorial events and parades.
And eventually the powerful Saenz family got what they wanted:
Chris, Officer Dominguez, and Officer Baca have all been indicted for the involuntary manslaughter of Jesse Saenz.
All three of them have been placed on administrative leave. And if convicted, they will all be sent to prison.
Sent to prison just for doing their jobs!
Chris and I are still in shock.
And our lives will never be the same.
Last year after many prayers we had decided to adopt a little girl and boy.
But after Chris was indicted, we were told we are no longer allowed to adopt them.
Even worse, we don’t feel safe here in our own town.
The Saenz family has been very vocal about their hate for the police -- Officer Dominguez and Officer Baca’s children were even threatened at school.
So Chris and I don’t even go into town anymore unless we’re armed.
I’m doing my best to stay strong for Chris and Aidin, but it’s hard to do when I’m so scared myself.
Especially when I think about the trial.
I’m worried that the Saenz family has the deck stacked against us.
For instance, there were other witnesses who saw Jesse Saenz out of control the night of his arrest – but they were allegedly threatened by the Saenz family and refuse to come forward.
Even worse, NO interviews with the medics who treated Saenz were ever conducted.
NO interviews with the Emergency Room doctors and nurses were held.
And Jesse Saenz’s past medical records have NEVER been examined.
I feel so hopeless... scared... and angry.
Is this the thanks my husband gets for risking his life as a police officer for the past 18 years?
All he’s ever done is try to keep the people of New Mexico safe and protected.
Now I don’t know what will happen. Will Chris be torn away from Aidin and me? Will he be sent to a prison here in New Mexico, where the inmates despise cops? And if Chris survives the trial, how on earth will we ever pay our legal bills?
So far I have only one hope.
You see, The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund has offered to help Chris -- and I can honestly tell you that these patriots are the best friend a police officer could ever have.
When I called the Chairman of LELDF, he and his Board Members , including former Attorney General Ed Meese and former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights William Bradford Reynolds , said they would do whatever they could to help us.
Now they are trying to raise money on Chris’ behalf -- to pay for attorneys, expert witnesses, and legal research.
I truly believe that God is sending Chris and me a lifeline through LELDF .
They are the only light at the end of the tunnel for us right now.
Chris and I aren’t wealthy people.
Our friends and neighbors even held a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to try to raise money for the trial. But we are still short by more than $100,000.
And that’s why I’m about to ask you the hardest question I’ve ever asked anyone in my life.
Could you send a contribution today to LELDF to help Chris and the other officers?
I know it’s a bold request. But I’m so frightened for Chris -- I will do whatever I can to help him.
As his wife, I’ve got to try. The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF) is a non-profit organization so your gift is tax-deductible.
Any amount -- $25, $50, $75, $100, $250, or even $500 -- will help. Just your $25 could be the difference between Chris coming home to me and Aidin...
... or going to prison for a “crime” he didn’t commit.
Please, if you have just a few dollars you can spare today -- will you help my husband and these other brave officers?
The state of New Mexico has unlimited funds to stack the deck against Chris in court. But Chris and I can rely only on the generous hearts of people like you.
Thank you for reading my letter.
I will never be able to put into words how much your support means to us.
Mrs. Rhonda Edmondson
P.S. If what my husband did was manslaughter than sooner or later every good police officer in this country will be behind bars just for doing their jobs!