Two BCSO deputies face second racial profiling lawsuit - Albuquerque Journal

Two BCSO deputies face second racial profiling lawsuit

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Two Black women from Wisconsin are suing Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales and two deputies alleging racial and religious profiling stemming from a traffic stop in July 2017.

The lawsuit comes about five months after Bernalillo County reached a $100,000 settlement with another Black woman who filed a lawsuit against BCSO after she was pulled over three times in 28 days by deputies Patrick Rael and Leonard Armijo, the same deputies named in the new lawsuit, in spring 2017.

Deputy Joseph Montiel, a BCSO spokesman, said that Rael still works for BCSO and that Armijo now works for the Albuquerque Police Department.

Montiel declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Sisters Consweyla and Cynthia Minafee, and a 5-year-old child, Yahaven Pylant, were traveling from Phoenix back to Wisconsin when they were pulled over by Rael on Interstate 40 the morning of July 7, 2017. Cynthia Minafee was Yahaven’s legal guardian at the time, said the Minafees’ lawyer, Terri Keller.

The traffic stop lasted almost an hour and included an extensive search of the vehicle with a drug dog, the lawsuit says.

Consweyla Minafee, the driver, was not issued a traffic citation, but Cynthia Minafee was issued a citation for not having Yahaven properly restrained. The citation was dismissed in May, online court records show.

The Minafees allege they were pulled over because they are African American and because Consweyla Minafee was wearing a head scarf, similar to what Muslim women wear on their heads. The Minafees are not Muslim, Keller said.

“The message given was that Defendant Rael had the power and will use it unjustly; the Minafees and child are African American, possibly Muslim and from out of state and therefore have no voice,” the lawsuit states. “Not only was there no lawful reason for Defendant Rael’s behavior, there was no dignity in the manner in which he treated the Minafees and child.”

According to the lawsuit, Rael told the women to get out of the car and said he could smell marijuana on Cynthia. Cynthia said that she had not smoked in the car and that there was no marijuana in the vehicle.

“Defendant Rael asked Plaintiff Consweyla if he could search the vehicle, but told her that if she said no, he would search it, anyway,” the lawsuit says.

Rael then pulled Yahaven out of his car seat and made him stand on the hot ground with no shoes on and searched the car with a drug dog. Armijo later arrived and helped Rael search the car for about 10 minutes. Everything was removed from the car during the stop.

After finding nothing incriminating, the deputies issued Cynthia a citation for Yahaven not properly wearing a seat belt.

The lawsuit accuses Rael and Armijo of conducting an unlawful seizure, racial and religious profiling, and retaliating against free speech after Cynthia Minafee questioned why Rael pulled them over. It also accuses Rael of battery for taking Yahaven out of the car.

The Minafees are seeking compensatory damages and legal fees.

In February, Bernalillo County settled a racial profiling lawsuit filed by Sherese Crawford, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer, for $100,000. Crawford alleged that she was pulled over twice by Rael and once by Armijo during a 28-day span in April and May 2017. She was never issued a citation.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Two BCSO deputies face second racial profiling lawsuit

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
New Mexico passed laws protecting access to abortion. Opponents ...
ABQnews Seeker
Anti-abortion activists want to challenge the ... Anti-abortion activists want to challenge the passage of New Mexico’s House Bill 7 in court.
Comstock Act: How does it fit in the abortion ...
ABQnews Seeker
Ordinances pertaining to abortion access that ... Ordinances pertaining to abortion access that passed in jurisdictions across eastern New Mexico are rooted in this 150-year-old law.
Photos: UNM Lobos baseball team fall 2-0 against NMSU
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque trims bus schedule, seeks input on future service ...
ABQnews Seeker
A staffing shortage is prompting ABQ ... A staffing shortage is prompting ABQ RIDE to suspend some routes and reduce service on many others
Former Albuquerque city staffer claims she was wrongfully fired ...
ABQnews Seeker
Mara Burstein, a former city administrator, ... Mara Burstein, a former city administrator, alleges she was fired despite statements from a doctor attesting that her medical conditions required her to telecommute ...
Albuquerque drivers who aren’t paying speed camera tickets could ...
ABQnews Seeker
Mayor Tim Keller wants to make ... Mayor Tim Keller wants to make it illegal for people with multiple unpaid speed-camera citations to park on city streets or other city property ...
US regulators delay decision on nuclear fuel storage license
ABQnews Seeker
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- U.S. regulators ... ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- U.S. regulators say they need more time to wrap up a final safety report and make a decision on whether ...
Mudvayne to play Isleta Amphitheater on Aug. 15
ABQnews Seeker
For more than two decades, Mudvayne ... For more than two decades, Mudvayne has been making heavy metal music its own way. The 'Psychotherapy Sessions 2023' tour will stop at Isleta ...
Archbishop of Santa Fe offers apology to clergy sexual ...
ABQnews Seeker
A letter from Archbishop John Wester’s ... A letter from Archbishop John Wester’s to victims of clergy sexual abuse comes as the archdiocese and survivors are working to resolve a long-running ...