SAN JUAN COUNTY, NM (KRQE) – A man tased by a New Mexico deputy in his own home is now suing the department, and his attorney claims the audio of the encounter shows the deputy had a quick trigger finger.
This aggressive encounter on March 1 started when a San Juan County Sheriff’s Office deputy knocked on the door of a home in Farmington.
“Do you mind stepping out here so we can talk real quick?” the deputy asked the man who answered, later identified as Joshua Gonzales.
“About what?” Gonzales asked.
“Oh, I’ll tell you in a second,” the deputy responded. “What’s your name?”
“About what?” Gonzales asked again.
“I’m just doing a little investigation I’m doing and it may involve you,” the deputy explained.
“In this case, this officer violated our client’s civil rights by demanding he identify himself without any probable cause that our client had committed any crime whatsoever,” Gonzales’ attorney, Shannon Kennedy, stated.
The conversation then moved inside the home.
“I feel like I’ve been trying to be pretty fair with you so here we go,” the deputy is heard saying on the dash camera audio.
“Hey, you can’t come into my house,” Gonzales replied. “You can’t come into my house.”
“Yes, I can,” the deputy said.
While Gonzales kept questioning the deputy, the audio never revealed any threatening behavior.
“You’re trying to be very [assertive toward] me. I find that a threat. You’re also not listening to my commands. Your hands are behind-” the deputy said before the sound of a taser can be heard, followed by Gonzales screaming.
“OK!” Gonzales yelled. “I didn’t even do anything to you.”
It was a move Kennedy is calling unjustified.
“A lawful use of force is when an officer is protecting himself or another from violence,” Kennedy explained.
After the deputy put Gonzales in cuffs, he finally told Gonzales why he was being investigated.
“We got an anonymous call from someone that the vehicle being operated- the driver may have been under the influence. That person matched your basic description,” he said.
Gonzales was charged with resisting arrest and concealing his identity. Those charges were later dropped.
The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office said it considers the deputy’s use of force as acceptable. He is still working for the department.