BELEN, NM (KRQE) – A loud house party led to a strange arrest in Belen a little more than a year ago.
Officer Ed von Kutzleben responded and confronted a woman he saw entering her car with a bottle of beer. But a couple leaving the party caught his attention. His audio belt recording picks up von Kutzleben yelling for the two to come over.
While a man demands to know what the officer’s accusing him of doing, a scuffle breaks out.
Von Kutzleben later claims a woman, Lisa Torres, attacked him. According to a federal lawsuit filed this month, von Kutzleben simply threw Torres to the sidewalk while trying to handcuff her, breaking her arm.
The officer handcuffs her to the front of his car before continuing to handle the chaotic scene. Minutes later, Torres slips out of the cuff but doesn’t run. Von Kutzleben comes back and on belt tape, you can hear him yell, “What did I tell you about slipping your cuffs?!”.
According to the lawsuit, von Kutzleben threw her to the ground again and when she struggled to get up, started dragging her by her broken arm as she screamed in pain.
Despite von Kutzleben’s claim Torres attacked him, he never filed a police report or a use of force report and Torres was never charged with any crime.
Another officer’s report of another arrest at the scene only describes Torres in handcuffs and claims a “heavily intoxicated” Torres told him repeatedly she hurt her arm falling. The lawsuit claims Torres never fell and that account came from von Kutzleben himself. Von Kutzleben’s belt tape stops before that.
Torres had multiple arm fractures and a dislocated elbow, which required two surgeries and physical therapy.
Torres is now suing von Kutzleben for excessive force and wrongful arrest.
Belen’s Police Chief Dan Robb, declined comment on the case but did confirm that department policy requires officers to file a use of force report if there is a use of force incident.
Von Kutzleben has been in the spotlight for his use of force before.
In his previous job as Mountainair police chief, von Kutzleben fired shots at a car fleeing from a traffic stop. During the ensuing chase, that man, Paul Sanchez, smashed into a car killing a grandmother and her grandson.
Although many in town wanted von Kutzleben fired saying he was at least partly responsible for the wreck, a state police report cleared him of any wrongdoing.
However, KRQE News 13 has learned that the city did pay the family a settlement in the case.