SUNLAND PARK, NM - Today, the City of Sunland Park and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico jointly announced that they had reached a resolution in a police profiling lawsuit filed on behalf of Las Cruces resident Oscar Gutiérrez Sánchez. Under the terms of the settlement, the former Sunland Park police officer has agreed to pay Gutierrez Sanchez $10,000, cover attorneys’ fees, and the City of Sunland Park has agreed to permit the ACLU of New Mexico to review police training materials.
“We are pleased that the City of Sunland Park and its officers are committed to constitutional policing moving forward,” said ACLU of New Mexico Legal Director Leon Howard “It is vital for the trust and safety of the community that the police conduct traffic stops without unlawful profiling, pretext, or expansion of the scope of the original stop. New Mexicans deserve to live their daily lives without fear that they will be stopped or searched based solely on their perceived ethnicity, national origin, or language.”
“Sunland Park Police Department remains committed to ethical and lawful policing which makes our community safer,” said Sunland Park City Manager Julia Brown. “Our officers strive to maintain excellent relationships with the people and communities we serve and protect. We continue to seek out ways to improve our ability to do just that, and engaging with community stakeholders like the ACLU is an important means of serving those goals.”
The lawsuit alleged that on March 13, 2018, a Sunland Park police officer unlawfully detained and wrongfully arrested Oscar Gutiérrez Sánchez and his five year old son and subjected them to an illegal search using a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) drug detection dog. The search was conducted without warrant, consent, or probable cause, and revealed no contraband or evidence of illegal activity in the vehicle. The suit alleges that the officer’s actions violated Article II, Section 10 of the New Mexico State Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, and New Mexico Statute 29-21-2 “Profiling Practices Prohibited”, which prevents law enforcement from discriminating on the basis of, among other categories, race, ethnicity, national origin, or language.
A copy of the legal complaint is available here.
ACLU of New Mexico attorneys Leon Howard and Maria Martinez Sanchez as well as former ACLU of New Mexico attorney Kristin Greer Love and cooperating attorney Mark Fine represented the client.