Published: 12:44 pm, Fri. Jul. 31st, 2020
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A Black man alleges in a lawsuit against New Mexico State Police that he was arrested without justification last year after shooting video on his phone of a police raid at a neighbor’s home in Albuquerque and then declining requests from officers to identify himself.
The lawsuit filed Thursday said 23-year-old D’Andre Ravenel was jailed for four days on a charge of resisting an officer, though it was dismissed just days after his April 2019 arrest.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Ravenel, said he was engaging in constitutionally protected conduct when he recorded the video from a safe distance on a public sidewalk and didn’t inhibit officers from doing their jobs.
“Nevertheless, the arrest, criminal charges and incarceration never should have happened, and likely would not have happened if his skin was of a different shade,” the ACLU of New Mexico said in the lawsuit.
State Police spokesman Officer Ray Wilson declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit said Ravenel was approached by State Police Officer Tony Fetty, who became upset when Ravenel declined his request to provide his identification and arrested him.
The lawsuit alleges an FBI agent, whose name isn’t provided in the filing, then harassed Ravenel by threatening to jail him if he didn’t provide his name.
“At this point, Mr. Ravenel asked to speak with a lawyer and the FBI agent told him that he did not have that right because he ‘wasn’t under arrest’ despite the fact that Mr. Ravenel was in handcuffs and not free to leave,” the lawsuit said.
While the lawsuit makes allegations against the federal agent, the FBI wasn’t sued by Ravenel. FBI spokesman Frank Fisher declined to comment on the allegations made against the federal agent.
The federal agent, who called the probation office on Ravenel after he declined to identify himself, took Ravenel’s phone, turned off the camera and searched the device without Ravenel’s consent or probable cause for a warrantless search, according to the lawsuit.
After he was released from jail, Ravenel’s probation officer told him that an FBI agent offered to give back Ravenel his phone if he agreed to delete the footage from the day of his arrest, the lawsuit alleged.
Ravenel was desperate to get his phone back, so he agreed to delete the video, and the phone was returned to him 34 days after it was taken from him, according to the lawsuit.