City to return man's Chevy Chevelle nearly a decade after it was seized in Albuquerque | KOB 4

City to return man's Chevy Chevelle nearly a decade after it was seized in Albuquerque

Chris Ramirez
April 22, 2019 10:16 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- An Albuquerque man is getting his car back nearly a decade after it was seized by police in what was later determined to be an unconstitutional program.


In 2009, Leo Martinez left a West Side Albuquerque bar. Minutes later, Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officers pulled him over.

“I said, ‘what did I do?’  And he didn't tell me anything. I smelled like beer because I had two of them,” Martinez said.

He never disputed he had two beers.  In fact, he pleaded guilty to the DWI charge and agreed to spend nine months in jail.

During that time, APD seized his 1970 SS Chevy Chevelle 454 and kept it.

Martinez took pride in the car. He built it and won awards at car shows.

After getting out of jail, Martinez searched for his car.

“I went to different car shows, I thought somebody bought and it took it to car shows,” Martinez said. “It was never seen anymore, none of my friends, nobody saw it anymore.” 

However, in March 2019, he saw his car on a Facebook post.

The post said it had been seized and “was nearly crushed due to seizure protocol," but it was saved.

The post also said the Chevelle was going to be converted into an APD show car.

Martinez filed a lawsuit to get his Chevelle returned.

KOB 4 sent emails and made phone calls to the city to try to locate the Chevelle. For nearly a week, nothing panned out.

However, a crew from KOB 4 eventually found the car at Pino Yards, which is run by the City of Albuquerque.

The City of Albuquerque said they would not make the Chevelle an APD show car after all. 

Instead, it will be returned to Martinez.

Related Story: City of Albuquerque faces class-action lawsuit over vehicle seizure program


Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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