NEW MEXICO (KRQE) –A New Mexico family wants answers after they say Arkansas deputies caused their loved one’s death. They’ve filed a lawsuit claiming Daniel Adrian Barajas was racially profiled by an Arkansas County Sheriff’s Office. 

“A loving person. A big heart person, a funny person, a good son,” said Maria Barajas, Daniel Barajas’ mother. 38-year-old, Daniel Barajas, was a self-employed welding specialist from Albuquerque. His family says he would still be alive today if it weren’t for the actions of Arkansas deputies. In January 2022, Barajas was driving through Arkansas toward Dallas, Texas to visit his two sisters’ newborn babies. 

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According to the lawsuit, he was confronted by Saline County Sheriff’s Deputies while he was stopped on the side of Interstate-30, who claimed he was incoherent, shaking, and possibly suicidal. However, the lawsuit claims when EMTs arrived on the scene, they determined Barajas was actually stable. It’s not clear what exactly happened after he left, but the lawsuit says the deputies confiscated his keys and used some kind of force against him.  

Minutes later, Barajas was seen in the middle of I-30 on foot, where he was hit by multiple cars and died. The family said when they asked what happened while Barajas was under the deputy’s supervision, they were told it was a possible suicide. 

“He was never mentally ill, he’s never talked about suicide, he’s never been admitted to a mental institution, and for the coroner specifically, for him to say that this is a suicide it’s disgusting,” said Daniel’s sister, Xexilia Barajas. 

Barajas’ sister said a deputy later told her, he believed her brother was a drug trafficker, even though he had no criminal record, and there were no drugs on the scene. The family and the Latin American advocacy group LULAC believe Barajas was targeted because of the color of his skin.  

On top of the lawsuit, they are hoping the case could spark new legislation, ensuring federal protections on interstates to prevent similar cases involving minorities. News 13 reached out to the Arkansas Sheriff’s Office for comment but were not able to get in contact before their closing.