Santa Fe man sues after he’s arrested on deceased brother’s warrant


SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – It was a case of mistaken identity and it landed a man in jail. Now he’s suing, saying the officer should have known better.

It’s commonplace for siblings to look alike, but one Santa Fe man says he showed an officer proof he wasn’t his wanted brother before they arrested him.

A Santa Fe police report explains how this case unfolded at a home near Agua Fria and Osage in Santa Fe last year.

The officer says he spoke with a man named John Armijo. That man had a warrant out for his arrest for failing to show up in court, so the officer arrested him.

But Attorney Rick Sandoval says the man arrested was not John Armijo — it was his client Phillip Armijo.

You see, John died in 2013, and Phillip is his brother.

“We have an individual who was, not just falsely arrested, but he was arrested for his deceased brother’s warrant,” Sandoval said. “He presented three forms of ID to the Santa Fe Police officer, who could’ve very easily found out he was not the deceased.”

However, the police report doesn’t mention Armijo ever showing the officer his ID. He was taken to jail, where they caught the mistake a day later. He would spend three days there before he was finally released.

The report also mentions John Armijo had used his brother’s identification in the past. Sandoval says he is unaware if that happened, but says it shouldn’t matter.

“Despite having his ID, his social security card, and his student ID, he still took him into custody,” Sandoval said.

The City of Santa Fe wouldn’t talk to us about the case, but Sandoval says the city talked to him.

“They’re telling me they made no mistake and they see no liability. That’s what the city of Santa Fe said,” Sandoval told KRQE News 13.

Sandoval says his client is doing his best to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“We want accountability. We want better training. We want to make sure that the people of Santa Fe, that they’re not going to get picked up for a wrong warrant,” Sandoval said.

Armijo’s attorney says he was finally let out of jail after appearing before a judge. That judge ordered his immediate release.

Phillip Armjio was arrested years ago for drunk driving and misdemeanor drug charges.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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