A jury has ruled in favor of two Las Cruces Police officers in a federal lawsuit filed by a man arrested in 2010. Joey Valdez Perea, 38 at the time of the arrest, filed the lawsuit in United States District Court alleging illegal arrest, excessive force and malicious prosecution by officers Richard Garcia, Isaiah Baker and Gil Mora. The lawsuit also alleged negligent training and supervision by the Las Cruces Police Department. The jury trial was set for Aug. 5-6 in front of U.S. District Judge Gregory B. Wormuth.
Prior to trial, Perea withdrew claims against the Las Cruces Police Department for negligent training and supervision. And prior to submission to the jury, Judge Wormuth dismissed all claims against officer Mora, and the malicious prosecution claims against Garcia and Baker.
On Wednesday afternoon, after two hours of deliberation, the eight-person jury rendered a verdict in favor of officers Garcia and Baker, stating the officers did not commit an illegal arrest and did not use excessive force in making the arrest.
“I believe this verifies that the training our officers receive is exemplary and consistent with best practices in law enforcement,” said LCPD Chief Jaime Montoya. “Our community can be proud of the professionalism displayed by our officers.”
The officers and Las Cruces Police Department were represented by attorney David Lutz – of Martin, Lutz, Roggow and Eubanks – and City of Las Cruces attorney Harry “Pete” Connelly.
On June 16, 2010, Las Cruces Police learned that Perea, after a night of drinking, fell asleep in his friend’s car and would not wake up. Officers tried to wake Perea unsuccessfully until paramedics arrived. The paramedics eventually woke up Perea who became agitated, clenching his fists at the paramedics, and began using profanities at the paramedics and officers.
Perea exited the vehicle at which point officers intervened out of concern for the safety of paramedics and others on scene. Perea refused to comply with the officers’ commands. Perea attempted to get back into the vehicle, forcing officers to fire a Taser at Perea and use other means of physical force to take him into custody. Perea was arrested for resisting, obstructing or evading an officer and for concealing his identity.
Information from Las Cruces Police