WATCH: Calhoun County Sheriff’s Deputy Suspended For 14 Days After Drunken Driving Arrest

Noemi Garza.

July 31, 2015

CALHOUN COUNTY, MI – A Calhoun County sheriff’s deputy was suspended without pay following her arrest last month in Kalamazoo on suspicion of drunken driving.

Noemi Garza, a six-year veteran of the sheriff’s office assigned to duties in the county jail, was given a 14-day suspension June 29 by Sheriff Matthew Saxton for what he said were “multiple violations of the agency’s standards of conduct,” according to documents obtained by the Kalamazoo Gazette under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

Garza’s suspension stemmed from her June 13 arrest in Kalamazoo in connection with a crash near the corner of Douglas Avenue and Forbes Street.

Kalamazoo Public Safety officers responded to the crash after a man reported that his Oldsmobile Alero was struck by a Pontiac Firebird that he said ran through the intersection at Douglas and West Main Street.

Garza was arrested at the scene. After she was handcuffed, Garza was placed in a KDPS cruiser where she kicked at one of the car’s doors, called a female officer vulgar names and repeatedly cursed at the officer.

A blood draw later revealed Garza, 32, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.17 percent, more than double the legal limit of 0.08 percent for driving in Michigan, according to a KDPS crash report obtained by the Gazette under FOIA.

In June, Garza pleaded not guilty in Kalamazoo County District Court to charges of attempted resisting and obstructing police, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, failure to stop at the scene of a collision and possession of a firearm while under the influence.

Each charge is a misdemeanor, the most serious of which is attempted resisting and obstructing police. That charge is punishable by up to one year in jail while the remaining counts are punishable by a maximum sentence ranging from three months to 93 days in jail.

Garza is scheduled to stand trial Aug. 5 before District Judge Christopher T. Haenicke.

Documents show the internal investigation that led to Garza’s suspension was launched the day she was arrested and that she had been placed on paid administrative leave June 14.

Garza was interviewed during the internal investigation. Saxton said in a June 29 letter to Garza regarding her suspension that “I do not feel that any information was provided that would explain your actions or mitigate any potential discipline. I cannot ignore the evidence that was presented in the investigative report and I am compelled to take action in that regard.”

The internal investigation found that Garza’s actions on June 13 violated sections of the sheriff’s office code of conduct. Specifically, it found she failed to promote a positive public image and failed to observe criminal and civil laws.

“The operations of the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office require that each and every employee be beyond reproach,” Saxton wrote in the letter. “The allegations against you present a clear picture of your undisputed lack of concern for the integrity and image of the Sheriff’s Office, and your failure to take responsibility for your own actions.”