Twice Fired New Mexico Firefighter Sues County

A former Albuquerque firefighter who was fired for hanging up on a frantic 911 caller in 2015 because the caller swore at him, is filing suit against the Bernalillo County Fire Department who hired and then abruptly fired him.

Matthew Sanchez was fired by the Albuquerque Fire Department shortly after a June 26, 2015 incident involving the shooting death of 17 year-old Jaydon Chavez-Silver. Chavez-Silver’s girlfriend, Esperanza Quintero, herself just 17, began cardiopulmonary resuscitation and called 911.

Sanchez was working in the dispatch center at the time, and asked Quintero twice about whether Silver was breathing. An emotional Quintero replied “He’s barely breathing. How many times do I have to f***ing tell you?” Sanchez then said: “Ok, you know what ma’am, you could deal with it yourself. I’m not gonna deal with this, okay?” and hung up her.

Sanchez was later hired by the Bernalillo County Fire Department, but fired shortly thereafter following concerns raised by County Commissioner Wayne Johnson about his “temperament”. According to Sanchez’s lawsuit, Commissioner Johnson violated county policy by getting involved in a personnel matter. The suit was filed in Albuquerque District Court on July 26, 2017 alleging breach of contract.

More on the story.

You may recall that in June of this year, Chavez-Silver’s family filed suit against Sanchez personally. More on that story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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