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Lawsuit: Man arrested after filming a police raid

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the New Mexico Department of Public Safety and a State Police officer on behalf of a 23-year-old Black man, who says he was arrested after filming a police raid in his Albuquerque neighborhood.

According to the lawsuit, D’Andre Ravenel was arrested and handcuffed April 12, 2019, after filming what appeared to be a raid on his neighbor’s house with his cellphone from the sidewalk. The suit was filed Thursday in 1st Judicial District Court.

Ravenel alleges he was told he was interfering with the police investigation when taken into custody by State Police officer Tony Fetty, and was later charged with resisting an officer. The charges were dropped, but Ravenal spent four days at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

“Officer Fetty immediately approached Mr. Ravenel with suspicion because he is a Black man,” said Leon Howard, legal director at the ACLU of New Mexico, in a news release. “Our client should have been able to stand on his own street corner and exercise his constitutional right to film police from a safe distance, but instead he wound up cuffed and jailed for days. Sadly, his experience mirrors the experiences of countless other Black men in this country who are illegally arrested, or worse, brutalized and killed by police.”

The suit states that Ravenel was filming the police activity from a public sidewalk when he was asked for his identification, but he did not have his driver’s license. Ravenel alleges he was also threatened by an FBI agent. Ravenel said he repeatedly asked to speak to an attorney, but was denied the right by the law enforcement officers.

“I am always fearful when interacting with law enforcement because I know that the color of my skin makes me a target,” Ravenel said in the release. “I asserted my rights anyway because it’s more important than ever in this moment to hold officers who abuse their power accountable.”

The suit states that his cellphone was seized during his arrest and not returned until 34 days later when he agreed to delete the footage. It also alleges he was denied medication he had been taking while in custody at MDC.

The release said Ravenel brings the lawsuit “to vindicate his constitutional and statutory rights and to push back against the gross abuse of power that pervades law enforcement agencies in New Mexico and throughout this country.”

State Police spokesman Ray Wilson told the Journal the law enforcement agency does not comment on pending litigation.

Ravenel’s suit seeks actual, compensatory and punitive damages and any further relief the court deems “just and proper.”

According to court documents, Ravenel was sentenced to probation in the stabbing death of his brother Dezmond in 2017 after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Fetty served six years as a member of former Gov. Susana Martinez’s security detail. He filed a lawsuit against the Department of Public Safety in 2019, alleging the department retaliated against him in violation of the whistleblower protection act because he raised questions about actions by other members of the detail.

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