Repo man who was choked by NMSP officer talks about his ordeal

Created: 05/02/2014 10:17 PM
By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A New Mexico State Police officer is behind bars after Los Lunas police said he assaulted a repossession tow truck driver.

According to LLPD, officers responded to the Casa De Chavez Apartments Thursday on reports of a conflict between a male suspect and a tow truck driver.

Officers said the suspect, Charles Vernier, had the employee in a choke hold when they arrived at the scene. The employee was attempting to repossess Vernier's vehicle.

Our Danielle Todesco spoke with the employee about the incident.  He admits he has a dangerous job, but he said he has never had an encounter like this.

"This could go from bad to worse.  It was just a very scary moment at that point because I'm already having trouble trying to keep him off of me," he said.  "Trying to keep calm.  Trying to keep his arms out of my airway that way I could breathe."

The victim's wife shot a cell phone video of the incident.  Her husband is in the choke hold for almost nine minutes.  

Police said when officers arrived, they told Vernier several times to let the employee go before he complied. The victim told KOB that his left arm was numb for quite a while after the incident.

When police attempted to arrest him, officers said Vernier tried to run away, but he slipped and fell after a short distance.

Vernier is charged with aggravated battery and resisting arrest.

"Officer Vernier has been on administrative leave, for reasons I'm not at liberty to disclose. An internal inquiry will be launched into this matter immediately," NMSP Chief Pete Kassetas said in a statement.

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