COUNTY PREVAILS IN LAWSUIT ALLEGING NEGLIGENCE, EXCESSIVE FORCE

COUNTY PREVAILS IN LAWSUIT ALLEGING NEGLIGENCE, EXCESSIVE FORCE

Binding arbitration hearings last Friday resulted in no damages being awarded to a Las Cruces man who had alleged negligence and excessive force by two Doña Ana County Sheriff’s deputies.
Augustin Telles filed the lawsuit following his April 4, 1997, arrest for resisting arrest and refusing to acknowledge receipt of a traffic citation. He was seeking $150,000 for medical bills, attorneys fees, court costs and damages.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Molzen, who heard the arbitration arguments and reviewed the evidence submitted by both sides, ruled that the deputies acted within their scope of authority and according to standard law-enforcement policy. Molzen found no liability on the part of the county or its employees and awarded no money to Telles.
Telles was arrested April 4, 1997, following an accident in which he left his truck parked and unattended on a roadside. The truck was struck by another vehicle whose driver was cited for careless driving. Telles was cited for parking a vehicle in the roadway.
Telles refused to sign the citation, although it was explained to him that his signature did not constitute an admission of guilt. When the deputies informed him that they would have to arrest him if he did not sign, Telles verbally assaulted them, became physical and later alleged personal injuries as a result of his arrest.
Molzen reviewed the sworn depositions of witnesses and law-enforcement experts who said the deputies acted reasonably given Telles’ level of resistance at the time of his arrest. Both parties agreed in advance that the judge’s decision cannot be appealed.