Woman sues over ‘unnecessary patdown’ from New Mexico State Police officer

New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – What was a run of the mill traffic stop turned into what one woman claims was an inappropriate patdown.

The woman says the way the officer patted her down was not right. Now, she’s suing the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

Officer: “I’m going to have you step out here so I can look up your information, okay?”

Back in January 2018, New Mexico State Police officers pulled over a van on I-25 near Las Cruces.

Attorney Laura Schauer-Ives says her client, Cheri Chavez from Albuquerque, was inside that van. Chavez had a warrant for her arrest for failing to appear in court on a battery charge.

“You can see in the video, and anyone would be uncomfortable with the manner of search in which he did,” Schauer-Ives said.

Dashcam video shows New Mexico State Police Officer Gabriel Ramos patting down Chavez, placing his hands on her chest, bottom and in between her legs. While some may argue this is how officers are trained, Schauer-Ives says Ramos’s behavior was uncalled for.

“It obviously wasn’t necessary because the male passenger was not searched,” Schauer-Ives said.

The video also shows officers speaking with another person in the car who also had a warrant for his arrest.

Officer: “She’s your niece? She’s older than you? How does that work?”

Schauer-Ives says that man was never patted down, and video shows the officer having a casual conversation with him before arresting him.

“She was concerned that this officer was doing this to other women, and she wanted to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” she said.

That’s why Chavez is now suing the Department of Public Safety, claiming this officer touching her was battery. The lawsuit also says there was no legal reason for the officer to be toucher her that way.

The battery charge Chavez had an arrest warrant for was eventually dismissed. The man that was arrested had a warrant for failing to appear on a no driver’s license charge.

KRQE News 13 reached out to DPS for comment on this lawsuit and to ask if any internal investigation was conducted, but we did not hear back.

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