A New Mexico family has filed suit against the Department of Public Safety, claiming that New Mexico State Police officers used excessive force while searching for an escaped prisoner. Family members claim that, among other things, several police officers pointed their assault rifles at an unarmed 9-year-old girl who was holding an infant.
Last summer, the Olveda family of Grants, New Mexico, was hosting a birthday barbecue when police officers swarmed the family’s house in search of an escaped convict. According to the lawsuit, the fifteen family members in the home were ordered outside at gunpoint, where they were handcuffed and made to kneel on hot rocks. They were then forced to wait in a hot patrol unit for an hour. The police officers proceeded to ransack the house in search of the suspect.
One of the most disturbing claims in the lawsuit is that multiple police officers pointed their automatic assault weapons on a 9-year-old girl who was holding a 6-month-old infant. The officers also allegedly told a 13-year-old girl that they were investigating her immigration status in order to deport her. One mother claims that officers threatened to alert child protective services after she left her two children at home with relatives while she ran an errand.
Although the police claimed that this use of force was necessary, officers apparently asked the family next to nothing about the suspect. It wasn’t until several days later that the police force located the escapee, who had no connection to the Olvedas. The officers who participated in the raid attempted to conceal their identities, did not file a proper report, and did not preserve their dashcam or bodycam recordings, according to the lawsuit.
If these allegations are true, they are frightening examples of police intimidation against New Mexico civilians. The family is seeking damages for every person who was present during the raid, including the children. Civil rights violations at the hands of police officers are reported all too frequently: Victims of excessive force or other instances of police brutality are encouraged to contact a civil rights attorney.