Lawsuit claims police invaded Grants family's home during manhunt
December 27, 2017 10:10 PM
GRANTS, N.M. -- A New Mexico State Police SWAT team is accused of launching an assault on a Grants neighborhood just to find one guy. One family says the police response terrorized their backyard barbecue where even kids were put in handcuffs.
The family claims they were profiled during a state police effort to find an escaped inmate, forced from their home and detained when they'd done nothing wrong. Now they're suing the state.
When Ramon Lorenzo escaped from the Cibola County Detention Center on a June evening, police sprang into action. By morning state police SWAT had launched a manhunt, descending on the Grants mobile home park.
Ruben Olveda said he was having a 20th birthday barbecue when tactical officers started pouring into the cul-de-sac. He ran inside with about six kids who were at the party.
"When I looked out the front door, I just peeked my head out," he said. "They were like 'Come out with your hands up.'"
Olveda said state police called for him to come out of his house and put his hands up. He did, walking backward and out into the street and in front of all his neighbors. They told to get down on his knees. That's when he said he was handcuffed along with members of his family, including women and kids.
"They just treated us all like criminals," Olveda said. "They put the little kids in cuffs. My little cousin, after she got out, she had cuff marks on her wrists and she was crying."
Olveda is now suing the Department of Public Safety. His attorney released photos of the SWAT response that day to KOB. Those pictures depict a Lenco Bearcat, a heavily armed tactical vehicle.
The lawsuit claims officers on scene acknowledged the overt use of force, allegedly under orders to "shake the tree and see what falls out." The suit alleges multiple homes in the area were searched without cause during the dragnet for the escaped inmate.
The filing also claims officers didn't write a police report at all and failed to preserve dash cam and belt tape.
The lawsuit mentions it took state police five more days to locate the escaped inmate.
A state police spokesman cited department policy concerning on-going legal matters. They do not comment on pending litigation.
Updated: December 27, 2017 10:10 PM
Created: December 27, 2017 03:58 PM
Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved