Updated: October 29, 2020 11:05 PM
Created: October 29, 2020 10:22 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Newly-obtained video shows a New Mexico State Police officer punching a man in the head repeatedly after pulling him over.
The Northern New Mexico Independent got a hold of the investigation documents and the video, which may be disturbing to watch.
An investigation into the incident resulted in the officer, Ezekiel Esquivel-Mata, being charged with misdemeanor battery. He is currently on duty.
The interaction happened one night in December 2018. State police set up a DUI checkpoint near Taos. Officer Mata saw a car make a U-turn to avoid it, so he pulled the car over.
Video shows officer Mata approach the front passenger side door and begin to speak to the driver. The car starts rolling, and officer Mata shouts for the driver to put the car in park. He then approaches the driver’s side and asks the driver to get out of the car.
When the driver doesn’t comply, officer Mata, with other officers now joining him, pulls the driver out of the vehicle and wrestles him to the ground.
Officer Mata can be heard shouting, “Get on the f***** ground!” multiple times. With the driver on the ground and five officers on top of or surrounding him, officer Mata then punches the driver multiple times in the head.
Afterward, other officers said the man wasn’t complying, but he wasn’t being combative either.
Those details came to light after another officer at the scene reported the incident. That led to an internal investigation. The investigating officer said another officer at the scene stated, “... the level of force used by officer Mata, on (the victim), was completely unjustified,” and he, “Displayed inability to use the appropriate amount of force in stressful situations.”
Officer Mata signed an admission of guilt, telling that same investigating officer he, “... realized he had tunnel vision.” He acknowledged violating department policy.
The internal investigation and evidence was given to the Taos County District Attorney’s office.
Mata was charged with misdemeanor battery. He made a deal to complete a six-month probation-style program, including doing 40 hours of community service.
The driver was charged with a drug-related DUI.
A state police spokesperson said the department followed protocol after the incident, and added, “We hold our members to a higher standard and be assured that this allegation was fully investigated, and all evidence turned over to the district attorney’s office.”
As for officer Mata’s current status, a state police spokesperson said he, “Has been employed with the New Mexico State Police for two years and is currently stationed (in) Taos.”
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