LAS CRUCES, NM - Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico and cooperating attorney Ryan Villa filed a lawsuit against the City of Las Cruces, alleging two Las Cruces Police Department officers illegally entered the property of Osbaldo Flores, a Las Cruces resident, and used excessive force in seizing, detaining, and arresting him after he questioned their motives for being in his neighborhood. The officers did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to enter Mr. Flores’ property or to arrest him.
“These officers illegally tased, pepper sprayed, and forced Mr. Flores to the ground for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech,” said ACLU of New Mexico Legal Director Leon Howard. “When those tasked with serving and protecting retaliate against members of the community because they don’t like what they have to say, it threatens community safety and erodes trust in law enforcement.”
On June 2, 2016, Officer Jonathan Davis and Officer Isaiah Baker were parked on Mr. Flores’ street where they were allegedly investigating a stolen car. Standing in front of his house, Mr. Flores questioned Officer Davis’ motives for being on his street, as he had witnessed officers citing motorists for rolling through a nearby stop sign on prior occasions. While Mr. Flores and Officer Davis were speaking, a neighbor walked outside, prompting Officer Davis to approach him and ask if Mr. Flores was disturbing his peace. Though he told Officer Davis that Mr. Flores was not bothering him, Officer Davis walked back to Mr. Flores, accused him of “disorderly conduct,” and asked for his identification. When Mr. Flores refused to show identification and turned his back to go inside his home, Officer Davis and Officer Baker followed him into his yard, tackled him, battered, tased, and pepper sprayed him in the face at point blank range. They then charged Mr. Flores with six petty misdemeanors charges.
“The officers’ thin-skinned and violent response to our client is highly disturbing,” said Howard. “Officers are not above being questioned by the public while they are performing their duties. It would be a grave disservice to the community of Las Cruces to allow such gross displays of retaliation to go unanswered.”
A copy of the complaint is available below.