LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) -A New Mexico State Police officer was arrested Thursday after allegedly assaulting a repo tow-truck driver. Los Lunas Police say around 3 p.m. they responded to a call that the driver and a man where in some sort of conflict after an attempted repossession.
Inside the Story
- Charles Vernier Criminal Complaint
- Lapel Camera Video: NMSP Officer Assault Case
- Cell Phone Video: NMSP Officer Assault Case
The repo man tells News 13 he had no idea Vernier was a police officer but, says he was surprised and scared at Vernier’s behavior.
When police arrived on scene, they say State Police Officer Charles Vernier was choking the driver and they ordered him to stop. According to the news release, after Vernier released the man he attempted to run from officers.
In body cam video from LLPD, you see a large crowd gathered around watching the 6’5″ Vernier holding the tow truck driver. Vernier won’t let the driver go until an officer pulls out his Taser. Vernier repeatedly tells police they need to handcuff the driver for assaulting him.
Police say Vernier refused to turn around and comply.
“I’m not being handcuffed today,” Vernier says in the video.
Vernier runs a short distance before falling in the video.
It was only after his arrest that police found out Vernier is a cop.
“No one is above or below the law,” LLPD Lt. Carl Padilla told reporters Friday.
During an interview, Vernier told officers he was restraining the tow truck driver until police arrived. Vernier also said that he wasn’t 30 days late on his car payment, so he told the driver he couldn’t take his SUV.
Vernier is now charged with aggravated battery and interference with a police officer. He bonded out of jail Friday afternoon.
NMSP says Vernier has been with the department for about two years, and was on administrative leave at the time of the incident.
Sources tell News 13 Vernier was already being investigated by New Mexico State Police to determine if he was mentally competent to be an officer.
NMSP Chief Pete Kassetas issued a brief statement on Vernier.
“An internal inquiry will be launched into this new incident immediately. As Chief I take my officer’s conduct on and off duty seriously and I will not tolerate this type of behavior,” Kassetas wrote.