LAS CRUCES – A 2017 lawsuit over an alleged “rough ride” in a Las Cruces police vehicle by a former officer was settled this spring for $180,000, according to city records.
Warren McCowan of Las Cruces alleged in his complaint that Las Cruces police officer Mark Morales, who left the department in 2019, injured him after an arrest on Aug. 21, 2015, on charges of driving while intoxicated.
McCowan alleged that Morales drove him to the police station handcuffed in the back of his police vehicle without securing him in a seat belt. McCowan said Morales made the trip at high speed while deliberately jerking the vehicle so that McCown was “slammed throughout the back seat like a pingpong ball.”
At the station, McCowan claimed he was denied medical treatment until after he was booked into the county jail, even though officers pulled him up from the floor and caused his shoulder to “audibly tear.” He claimed the injury required two surgeries.
McCowan had been arrested on a charge of driving under the influence, but the charges were later dismissed, according to court records.
An attorney for McCowan said that no police body cam footage was available and that cameras at the station were reported to be “not working” at the time of the incident.
The city of Las Cruces admitted no wrongdoing or liability in settling with McCowan. Upon payment, McCowan filed a motion in March to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice.
Morales, whose name also appeared as “Moralez” in some early filings, resigned from the Las Cruces Police Department in August 2019 while he was on administrative leave on matters unrelated to McCowan’s allegations.
According to city records, Morales was awaiting disciplinary action after an administrative investigation.