ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a lawsuit in the First Judicial District Court on behalf of D’Andre Ravenel, a 23-year-old Black man who was arrested for filming police activity from his sidewalk. In the complaint, Mr. Ravenel alleges New Mexico State Police Officer Tony Fetty illegally arrested and detained him in retaliation for exercising his constitutionally protected rights.
“Officer Fetty immediately approached Mr. Ravenel with suspicion because he is a Black man,” said Leon Howard, legal director at the ACLU of New Mexico. “Our client should have been able to stand on his own street corner and exercise his constitutional right to film police from a safe distance, but instead he wound up cuffed and jailed for days. Sadly, his experience mirrors the experiences of countless other Black men in this country who are illegally arrested, or worse, brutalized and killed by police.”
On April 12, 2019, Mr. Ravenel witnessed what appeared to be a raid on a neighbor’s home and began filming the incident with his cellphone. Officer Fetty quickly approached him and asked him for identification. When Mr. Ravenel, who just walked outside from his home, responded that he did not have his license on him, Officer Fetty placed him in handcuffs and told him he was interfering with an investigation. Shortly after, an FBI agent walked over and proceeded to threaten Mr. Ravenel. He refused to allow him to speak with an attorney and illegally confiscated and searched his cellphone without consent.
“I am always fearful when interacting with law enforcement because I know that the color of my skin makes me a target,” said Ravenel. “I asserted my rights anyway because it’s more important than ever in this moment to hold officers who abuse their power accountable.”
Officer Fetty took Mr. Ravenel to the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) where he was charged with resisting arrest. He was placed in a cell and denied medication that he is required to take on a daily basis. On April 14, 2019 a judge dismissed Mr. Ravenel’s charges and closed his case. He should have been released shortly after his case was dismissed, however, an MDC correctional officer told him that he had to be seen by a psychiatric nurse before they would let him go and that because there was no such nurse available on a Sunday, he would have to stay another night. He was not released from MDC until approximately 10:00 PM on Monday, April 15, 2019, after spending four days in jail.
Mr. Ravenel is suing Officer Fetty and the New Mexico State Police to vindicate his rights and to push for reform in a law enforcement agency that systematically and disproportionately targets people of color.
A copy of the complaint is available below.