LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Law enforcement officers have expressed frustrations about “catch and release,” when criminals are let out of jail shortly after they’re booked. But in this case, one man was able to let himself slip away from custody, escaping from a police station.
Lapel video from New Mexico State Police officers last month shows an encounter with a man allegedly driving a stolen truck. “My wife’s vehicle that we drove broke,” Jesus Jimenez told officers.
When the officer checked the VIN number on the truck, dispatch informed him the truck was reported stolen. Jimenez had his wife and kids in the truck.
Jimenez told NMSP officers his wife’s car broke down, so he borrowed the truck from a friend. When asked where the truck came from, his wife told the officers on the scene, “One of his friends in Albuquerque, I don’t know the friend.”
The truck was towed and an officer transported Jimenez to the New Mexico State Police station in Los Lunas for booking. “Where did you get the truck at?” The officer asked Jimenez. “One of my buddies lent it to me,” he responded.
When asked which buddy, Jimenez said the man’s name was John Martinez. However, he said he didn’t have an address or a phone number for his friend to help corroborate his story. “The ignition’s not punched out or anything?” The officer asked. “No,” said Jimenez.
“And he just said, ‘There’s a truck in the mesa that you can use if you need?'” The officer followed up. “No, like it was his of course. You know, in his property up there,” Jimenez replied.
The officer’s report shows the ignition on the stolen truck was tampered with. When Jimenez said he didn’t have text message evidence or anything else to support his story that the truck was lent to him, the officer placed him in a holding cell and left the room to start the booking paperwork.
In the officer’s lapel video, you can hear the door latch, and see the officer’s hand closing the door. That video clip ends.
KRQE Investigates pieced together other surveillance camera angles from this case obtained through a public records request. Surveillance video shows Jimenez at one point opening that door and standing at the doorway for a while to see if anyone’s around.
Jimenez inches out of the room slowly. Video shows his left hand slipping through the handcuffs.
He peeks his head out of the exit door window, wriggles his left wrist, pops open the door, and within two minutes, Jimenez casually lets himself out of the police station.
Cameras capture his every move as he rounds the corner and completely slides his left hand out of his handcuffs. He escaped undetected.
So, how did this happen?
A New Mexico State Police spokesperson sent the following statement to KRQE News 13:
Jimenez was stopped in a stolen vehicle and arrested around 1:50 p.m. He was transported to the State Police office in Los Lunas. Jimenez was placed in the holding cell in handcuffs. It appears that the lock on the door malfunctioned and Jimenez was able to open it and leave the office undetected at around 4:00 p.m. He was located and arrested at around 8:00 p.m. at a residence in Los Chavez, near Belen. He was not wearing handcuffs when he was located, but they were recovered. An internal investigation was launched to determine why the lock malfunctioned and if there were any violations of policy and procedures.Officer Ray Wilson, New Mexico State Police Spokesperson
Ten minutes after the escape, surveillance video shows the booking officer notice Jimenez is gone. Video shows the officer looking in doorways.
State Police put out an alert to be on the lookout for Jimenez. Four hours later, he was spotted and arrested at a home in Los Chavez, near Belen.
“Where the cuffs at?” An officer asked Jimenez. “I don’t have them, man,” he replied.
This time officers didn’t take any chances, and tightly handcuff Jimenez before placing him in a patrol car. Another officer said he spotted Jimenez riding a mountain bike.
“I was like ‘Oh, there he is.'” The officer said. Jimenez’s original booking officer thanked the two officers who spotted Jimenez.
“That was the stupidest thing you could have done, dude,” the original booking officer told Jimenez. “I know, but I didn’t steal the truck,” he replied.
“I don’t even care, dude. Yeah, you did. And you’re getting charged with it and everything else,” the officer told Jimenez.
Jimenez’s wife said she got a call from him asking for a ride home. She told police officers, “He didn’t really explain too much with me. He didn’t have handcuffs on him when me and my mom picked him up.”
The officers left her with a warning. “Never get into a vehicle with somebody where the ignition’s all jacked up. He’s going to jail for a while,” said the officer.
Court records in Belen show Jimenez was released from jail two weeks later. Jimenez has a hearing scheduled for this case at the end of the month. If he fails to show, another warrant for his arrest may be issued.