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Sex trafficking victim sues APD over response to kidnapping

Chris Ramirez
June 09, 2017 06:58 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A woman held hostage for two weeks has filed a lawsuit against the Albuquerque Police Department and the two police officers who responded to the location of her captivity. The lawsuit alleges APD failed to adequately investigate after she called 911 for help, which created a situation where her captor then raped her, beat her and shaved her head in retaliation.

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That woman is Jaquelyn Barela, who had been a victim of sex trafficking. The man accused of trafficking her is Tito Fajardo.  At some point in their history, Fajardo got Barela pregnant and they had a child. Knowing that Fajardo was violent and dangerous, Barela hid her child from him.

Demanding to know where the child was hiding, Fajardo kidnapped Barela in 2016 and held her hostage by chaining her, beating and raping her. Finally, after two weeks in captivity, Barela found a phone and called 911.

KOB’s 4 Investigates Team obtained that 911 call:

911 operator: "Albuquerque 911.  What is your emergency?"
Barela: "2214 Arno."
911 operator: "22?"
Barela: "14."
911 operator: "Is that a house or an apartment?"
Barela: "House."
911 operator: "And what is the emergency there? Is that your house?"
Barela: "I'm being held hostage."
911 operator: "Who is?"
Barela: "I am."
911 operator: "By who?  Your boyfriend or who?"
Barela: "Yes."
911 operator: "How long has he been ... how long has he had you in hostage?"
Barela: "Hurry please."

She spoke in hushed whispers. Barela was scared.

911 operator: "I have police on the way. What's his name?"
Barela: "Tito Fajardo."
911 operator: "Peter?"
Barela: "Tito."
911 operator: "Tito? T-I-T-O?"
Barela: "Yes."

The 911 operator dispatched officers Timothy Wolffbrandt and Daniel Galvan. Lapel video shows them arriving at that house on Arno. The officers are seen walking around the property talking to neighbors.  The video shows the officers meet with neighbors and inform them they received a call about a domestic dispute. 

When the neighbors deny knowing anything about a domestic, the officers turn their attention to vehicles next door.  At that point, the officers shifted their investigation from looking for a woman held hostage to recovering stolen property at the house next door.

Civil rights attorney Shannon Kennedy is suing the Albuquerque Police Department on Barela's behalf. She believes the Albuquerque Police Department prioritizes property crimes over violent crimes.

"Instead of investigating them, they provided them information that they then turned against the victim," Kennedy said. "If you have someone calling from a home saying 'I'm being held hostage', you have the ability to go into that home, break down that door and save the person who is held hostage inside."

Once Fajardo learned that police were snooping around outside his home and that Jaquelyn Barela must have alerted them, he retaliated. 

"That is when they go back in, shave her head, violently raped her and labeled her a rat," Kennedy said.

KOB asked APD’s command staff why those officers didn’t do more to help. An APD spokeswoman said the department continues to look into whether the officers could have entered the home without a warrant. It should be noted that no records indicate the officers ever tried obtaining a warrant.   

Barela remained a hostage for days longer. She devised a new plan for escape, a plan that didn't include APD. She convinced Fajardo that their child may be near the Valencia County Sheriff's Office. Seizing the moment, she ran toward deputies begging for help.

Fajardo fled but APD arrested him in that home the next day. He eventually pleaded guilty to his crimes and is now serving a prison sentence.

Barela has received help from non-profits that specialize in helping sex trafficking victims. She hopes her lawsuit gets the answer to her question: Why didn't APD look harder for her when she called for help?

Credits

Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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