ACLU sues state police after they said an officer used excessive force on Native American man | KOB 4

ACLU sues state police after they said an officer used excessive force on Native American man

Joy Wang
Updated: March 04, 2020 03:22 PM
Created: March 03, 2020 11:06 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— The American Civil Liberties Union is suing New Mexico State Police after they said an officer used excessive force and targeted a Native American man.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of Dametrio Maldonado. Maldonado said he was traveling through Acoma Pueblo with his daughter to attend a volunteering event when he noticed a car crash.

“There was a young lady that was sitting on the beside the car crying profusely so I pulled up and stopped and told my daughter to get out and see if she could help her,” Maldonado said.

Maldonado said he was the one to call police. After officers arrived, that’s when Maldonado said things started to escalate.

State Police dash camera footage shows officers asking Maldonado to move his vehicle, but Maldonado said he was waiting for his daughter.

“He yelled at me to move out of the way so I just nodded and smiled, you know. That’s just me—I smile,” Maldonado said. “He got enraged when I smiled.”

Dash camera footage shows Officer Sondre Loberg following Maldonado’s car then pulling him over.

The officer is then heard asking Maldonado to get his license and insurance and to step out of the vehicle.

“Step in front of my unit. Right in front of it. Put your hands on there, both of them,” Loberg is heard saying on the video.

That’s when Loberg tries to put Maldonado in handcuffs.

“Complete confusion, you know?  You're like, why is this guy so enraged and why is he yelling at me?” Maldonado said.

Loberg is heard asking Maldonado if he had been drinking then puts him in the backseat of his police vehicle.

“This kind of incident where he's asking Mr. Maldonado if you're drunk reflects in based on everything that we know about police misconduct,” explained Preston Sanchez with the ACLU. “Based on everything we know about interactions between community and law enforcement. A racial bias toward Maldonado. Based on the color of his skin. Based on how he looks. Based on the geographic location at the time of the stop.”

Twenty minutes go by and Loberg finally decides to let Maldonado go.

“You’re looking at me with a grin on your face and I don’t take that as politeness, I take that as a big [expletive] you, you understand?” said Loberg on the dash camera footage.

“I took the handcuffs off because I’m giving you a break, but if you keep running your mouth I’m going to change my mind here,” Loberg adds.

KOB 4 reached out to state police for comment but officials said they do not comment on pending lawsuits. The officer who handcuffed Maldonado is still on duty.

After the incident, Maldonado said he was unable to farm or participate in cultural activities for months. He also said he needed physical therapy.

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