ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A jury has found that an Albuquerque police officer used excessive force during his encounter with a resident.
“He felt vindicated, he felt like he had been heard,” Attorney Cammie Nichols said about her client.
Nichols represented Jerry Rodriguez, the man Albuquerque Police Officer Russell Perea roughed up.
On Monday, Perea was found guilty of using excessive force on Rodriguez, a tow truck driver.
“He said that no matter what happened, he had had an opportunity to tell his story in court,” Nichols said.
In the winter of 2010 with a murder at a South Valley gas station. Police were looking for a Hummer with flames and Rodriguez owned a similar truck. The driver of that truck was pulled over by Rio Rancho Police and let go after they figured out he wasn’t the suspect.
A month later, Rodriguez had a run in with APD.
“He was approached as he was getting into his car by two undercover or plain-clothed officers who came up on him and essentially grabbed him from behind,” Nichols said.
Nichols said they never made it clear they were cops, threw Rodriguez to the ground and hurt his arm.
Perea was the only one of the four officers in the lawsuit filed in 2013 who was found guilty.
He was the partner of Levi Chavez, who went on trial and was later found innocent in the death of his wife Tera. Perea was fired by the city after his story on what happened that night didn’t make sense.
Perea fought for his job back and a personnel board ordered he be reinstated.
Now, APD has to pay $200,000.
“It’s really frustrating for the chief and the department to take disciplinary action, terminate an officer and have the court basically allow him to sue his way back into a badge and a gun,” Rob Perry, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer.
During the trial, Perea’s firing by the city was not brought up.
As for Rodriguez, Nichols said to this day he still suffers from chronic pain.
City officials say Perea is still working as an officer with the Northwest Area Command, but they are still determining what his future holds.
KRQE News 13 reached out to Perea’s attorney Sam Bregman, who fought to get his job back, to see what he had to say about this. He said he can not comment.