Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
A Hobbs man has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.
He says police officers found him walking to work, offered to give him a ride if he were sober – which he was – and then tased him when he opted not to get into their vehicles.
The tasing did not stop there. LaRon Williams was tased again when the group arrived at the city jail, again as they walked him to a cell, and once more inside the cell.
“The defendants had no suspicion or information that Mr. Williams was involved in any criminal activity when they detained him,” the suit says. “Any resistance to the officers’ unlawful detention of him is not criminal and cannot be used to support an arrest.”
The city of Hobbs declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court on Nov. 13.
LaRon Williams was off to the side of a road in Hobbs in October 2018 when a city police officer approached him after being dispatched to his location because he had reportedly been standing in the roadway.
A second officer, Josh Gordon asked Williams if he had been drinking, Williams said “no” and “reiterated he was only trying to get to work.” Gordon asked Williams to take a breath test and said “that he would give him a ride to work if the breath sample read ‘all zeroes.'” Williams agreed, and proceeded to blow a 0.00. Gordon told Williams to get into his car, the suit alleges.
“Mr. Williams did not feel comfortable getting into the backseat of Officer Gordon’s marked patrol unit,” the lawsuit says. “Sergeant (Alvin) Mattocks, who was at the scene, told Mr. Williams to sit in the back seat.”
Mattocks told Williams he did not have a choice, and Williams pleaded not to, the suit says.
“The officers became aggressive and told Mr. Williams that they were not leaving without first placing Mr. Williams in the back seat.”
Gordon and a second officer, Isidro Mora, attempted to handcuff him and pushed him up against a police car. Although Williams was not resisting arrest, the suit says, Gordon tased him and then placed him in his car and took him to the city jail.
There, Gordon, Mora, Mattocks and two other officers – Brian Burke and Dustin Seay – pushed Williams against the garage wall, where he was tased again.
“Mr. Williams fell to the ground. Mr. Williams’ body tensed up during the tasing,” the suit says. “Although Mr. Williams was not resisting, Sergeant Mattocks continued to explain to Mr. Williams that further resisting would result in additional tasering.”
On the way to the detox cell, Gordon tased Williams again, the lawsuit alleges. He was tased once more after officers placed him in the cell.
Officer Mora charged Williams with resisting, evading or obstructing an officer, but his case was dismissed when Mora failed to show up in court.
“Mr. Williams did not obstruct nor interfere with lawful police activity as the officers had no right to place him or attempt to place him in the back of a police car,” the suit says.
The suit also alleges the Hobbs Police Department has an unconstitutional policy to retaliate against people who exercise their First and Fourth amendment interests by charging them with resisting or disorderly conduct.
Williams is seeking actual and compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and other relief.