Ex-cop who pleaded guilty to stalking a woman faces numerous felonies

By: - September 20, 2022 1:09 pm

Walter Pacheco was employed by two police departments despite a previous allegation of death threats. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A former police officer who was hired by two Iowa cities despite a woman’s claims that he harassed and threatened to kill her now faces a litany of criminal charges for similar accusations involving a different woman, according to court records.

Walter Pacheco, 28, of Pleasant Hill, was hired for his first police job in Carroll in August 2020. Less than two years earlier, his ex-girlfriend had sought a domestic abuse protective order against him and alleged, in part, that he had threatened to kill her and her daughter, court records show.

Walter Pacheco was twice arrested for harassing a woman in Polk County. (Photo courtesy of Polk County Jail)

A judge who considered the woman’s request in early 2019 decided that she lacked sufficient proof for the protective order. The threat was allegedly sent via social media, and the woman did not retain a copy of the message.

The woman also had a difficult time navigating a court hearing for the request. She does not speak English and did not have an attorney. Pacheco — who is sometimes identified by the surname Pacheco Belen — is bilingual and hired an attorney to represent him.

City leaders in the western Iowa town of Carroll became aware of the woman’s allegations after he was hired but decided to retain him because the judge did not grant a protective order. However, Pacheco was forced to resign in March 2021 — about seven months after his hiring — because of his “inappropriate interactions with a minor” and with another person. The city did not divulge further details.

The Eagle Grove Police Department hired him the next month but fired him about five months later, in August 2021, for turning off his body camera while assigned to crowd control at a bar and for making an “inflammatory remark” to a firefighter.

Some people in the crowd were intoxicated and unruly and made comments that he interpreted as death threats, according to documents associated with his claim for unemployment benefits. Pacheco later joked to the firefighter that instead of arresting people, he could shoot them. A judge denied him the benefits.

Around the time of that judge’s decision, Pacheco was accused of harassing another woman in the Des Moines metro area, court records show.

Over the course of about two months, from February until April 2022, Pacheco repeatedly tried to make contact with the woman after she told him not to. She alleges that he sent her messages, went to her places of employment and her home, stole her security camera, and tried to contact her through her friends and her child, according to court records.

In early April, the situation culminated with a flurry of handwritten letters and electronic messages from Pacheco: “Facebook messages contained a picture of a penis and foul language,” a criminal complaint states.  Pacheco was also accused of driving his vehicle on the woman’s yard, causing severe damage.

Pacheco was arrested on charges of harassment, stalking, criminal mischief, theft and false imprisonment, the details of which were not contained in court records.

In July, he pleaded guilty to felony willful injury and misdemeanor stalking.

About 10 days later — before he was sentenced and while facing incarceration — Pacheco allegedly went to an office building the woman was cleaning and waited near a back door for about 90 minutes until she attempted to take out the trash, according to a criminal complaint.

He allegedly grabbed the door and went inside with her. Pacheco is accused of taking her keys, cellphone and an electronic ear bud. He ran when she threatened to call the police.

“She was fearful,” the complaint states.

Pacheco was charged with multiple felonies for robbery, burglary, theft, assault and stalking, court records show.

About a week after that incident, Pacheco surrendered his peace officer certification, according to Iowa Law Enforcement Academy records.

His sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 7, in which prosecutors hope to settle all of the pending charges against him. Pacheco faces up to 12 years in prison for the two charges to which he pleaded guilty.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.

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