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Journal Photographer Handcuffed at Gunpoint by State Police Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Journal photographer on assignment for the newspaper ended up in police handcuffs Wednesday afternoon in a case of mistaken identity.

Staff photographer Adolphe Pierre-Louis said he was forced to get on the ground in handcuffs for about half an hour after a State Police officer pulled him over on eastbound Interstate 40.

Pierre-Louis, who is 49 and has been with the Journal for more than 16 years, was in a Ford Explorer registered to the Albuquerque Publishing Co.

State Police spokesman Tim Johnson confirmed the incident occurred but said officers acted appropriately and were following standard operating procedure. He refused to release a report, citing a State Police policy that requires the news media to file a public records request for any report.

Pierre-Louis, who had been photographing an assignment in Los Lunas, said the incident was degrading and should not have gone on that long.

“I feel that the fact that I wasn’t offered a formal apology, that’s more upsetting than anything,” he said.

The episode started shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday, when a man standing on the side of the highway flagged down State Police Officer Joseph Schake, who works in the Farmington area but was in town for a conference at Route 66 Casino Hotel.

The man told Schake that a bald man in a white Ford Expedition had just pointed his gun at him and driven off on eastbound I-40, Johnson said.

Pierre-Louis was driving a Journal-owned white Ford Explorer. He noticed the officer come up behind him, pull up next to him and then get behind him again to pull him over, he said.

The photographer pulled over and observed that the officer was crouched behind the driver’s side door with his gun pointed at him.

Schake told Pierre-Louis to slowly get out of the car with his hands up. He commanded him to lift up his shirt.

Pierre-Louis said he followed all commands and explained that he was a photographer on assignment and identified himself several times. Pierre-Louis was also wearing his media badge around his neck and had camera equipment in his truck, which was searched.

The officer handcuffed him and forced him to get on his knees. Schake had Pierre-Louis’ driver’s licence to run through the warrants system, and other officers who arrived on scene went to go pick up the victim to see whether he could identify Pierre-Louis.

That man said Pierre-Louis was not the perpetrator, and he was soon uncuffed.

Johnson said the officers followed standard protocol and had to draw their weapons because they believed Pierre-Louis could be armed. His car had matched the description given by the victim and was heading in the same direction as the suspect.

Afterward, the victim told police his perpetrator was a Hispanic man who had picked him up and was giving him a ride. Johnson said he did not know if police found that man. Pierre-Louis is not Hispanic; he is black.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal