4 Investigates: Albuquerque mom arrested after traffic stop escalates
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There are certain things you just don’t say – fire in a crowded theater, bomb in an airport. For a local mom, it was something she said during a traffic stop that landed her in jail for the night.
Franchesca Gutierrez is on Second Street in Albuquerque’s North Valley a lot.
“I was driving to pick my son up from school on Second,” Gutierrez said. She knows that the speed limit on that road is 45 mph.
It was raining when she noticed lights flashing in her rearview mirror in August. Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy Connor Otero was southbound when he caught her speeding in the northbound lanes.
According to court documents, the deputy clocked her going 70 miles an hour. On body camera footage he claims, once she saw him, she accelerated up to 90 mph.
There is no printout of that radar speed, and we won’t see it captured on the deputy’s body camera as BCSO tells us deputies sometimes do.
But the reason she was stopped becomes less important than what happens when the deputy walks to her window.
He appears frustrated, so does she, and things quickly take a turn.
The deputy walks to her window, saying, “Deputy Otero with the sheriff’s office. Reason I’m stopping you is careless driving. Do you have your license, registration, and insurance on you?”
As Gutierrez looks for her information, the deputy questions her driving.
“Why were you driving like that?”
Gutierrez responds, “You’re the one who turned around and started coming behind me crazy.”
“Yes. I am a cop with lights on and a siren,” said the deputy.
“Actually, from the other side and I was not driving fast,” said Gutierrez.
“You were doing 70 when I got you on radar and you sped up to 90 when I turned around which is ridiculous,” said Deputy Otero.
Gutierrez said she found her license and insurance first.
Deputy Otero asks, “Where’s the registration?”
But when Gutierrez leans over to her glove box for the registration, she says something that changes everything. Some of the words were muffled, but she said something about her car being in a stolen car.
The deputy reaches in her window, grabs her, then opens the door asking her to get out of the vehicle.
“I said, ‘It’s not like the cars stolen’ and I’m reaching over to my glove box to grab my registration,” said Gutierrez.
At just five feet, a hundred pounds, she said the deputy yanked her out of her car and threw her to the ground.
“He like turned me over and he put his legs onto my back. I could feel is weight on me and he was heavy,” said Gutierrez.
She said he went way too far, and she has the bruises to show it.
But Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said the deputy did exactly what he was supposed to.
“He did a lot of things he should have done. And because of this and this incident I’ll be having him speak to our cadets to tell them what happened and give them an example,” said Sheriff John Allen.
When Deputy Otero asks for her information she gives him her license, with her picture. Her information was on the insurance.
4 Investigates asked the sheriff if people driving stolen cars normally have that vehicle insured.
“Criminals do anything. They can have a fake piece of paper, they’ll pull out fake insurance,” said Sheriff John Allen.
It only takes a minute for another deputy to verify the car is registered to Gutierrez. Even though multiple times during the stop she admits to saying the car was stolen.
“This car is registered to you?” Deputy Otero asks after Gutierrez was cuffed and in the back of his car.
“Yes,” said Gutierrez.
“So why did you say it was stolen?” said Deputy Otero.
“Because you were being rude right off the bat,” said Gutierrez.
“Well, that was not a smart decision,” said Deputy Otero.
Gutierrez said she was frazzled by how things transpired.
“I’ve seen people on chase-outs and people killing people and I’ve never seen these cops throw them on the floor or treat them like that. All I was doing was going to pick my son up,” said Gutierrez.
“When she goes and says a stolen vehicle, my deputy did a great job. My deputy could have pulled his firearm or brought her out at gunpoint. He did a great job at de-escalating that situation,” said BCSO Sheriff John Allen.
Gutierrez was taken and booked into jail where she stayed overnight. Now facing charges of careless driving and resisting, though she disputes that part too.
“I was maybe pulling away because it hurt. But I wasn’t resisting and saying ‘no, no, you’re not going to arrest me.’”
“I think this video is a great explanation for the public on what not to do when you’re contacted by law enforcement. Everything she did is what you do not want to do,” said Sheriff John Allen.
That arrest did not rise to the level of an internal affairs investigation. However, a supervisor did review it and found it consistent with policy.
Gutierrez filed a citizen’s complaint that made it to the sheriff’s desk. He said he supports the deputy 100%.