EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — An El Paso police officer accused of stealing money from an incident scene back in December admitted to facing financial trouble stemming from a “custody issue” during the Police Department’s internal investigation, according to court documents obtained by KTSM.
Documents also show that Ruben Morales, 25, is accused stealing $5,000 from a woman’s car after she fled on foot after striking an unattended vehicle in Northwest El Paso.
Morales is a 2-year veteran of the El Paso Police Department and has been charged with theft of more than $2,500 and less than $30,000, according to a news release sent out by the Police Department earlier this week.
Police have begun the termination process against Morales, according to the initial news release.
According to police, Morales responded to a hit-and-run crash along the 6600 block of Westfield in Northwest El Paso back on Dec. 13.
An internal investigation showed that money — U.S. currency — was missing from a locked glove box and a small bag inside the vheicle.
The owner of the vehicle had reported the missing money to police, prompting the investigation.
According to court documents, the car involved in the hit-and-run crash was impounded and the driver fled the scene on foot after hitting an unattended vehicle.
KTSM is not identifying the woman because she is considered the victim of a crime.
When the woman went to the impound lot to get her car, she found that $5,000 was missing from a wallet that was in a locked glove box and from a small bag left in the center console.
After the woman realized her money was missing, she went to the Westside Regional Command to talk to Morales. He told her he didn’t know where the money was, according to court documents.
Police were able to learn that Morales did know about the money based on body camera footage from the date of the incident, according to court documents.
The footage shows Morales looking through the vehicle and picking up a purse and wallet. Morales, upon seeing the money, zipped up the wallet and placed it next to the purse on the driver’s seat.
Morales continued to look through the vehicle and then turned off his body camera as well as the video recorder in his vehicle, according to court documents.
Morales implicated himself during the investigation, court documents say, and said he stole money from the wallet only and that it was only $1,000. He said he took the money because he was in financial difficulty from a custody issue and was having to pay for legal representation.