Former cop sues after felony arrest

CUBA, N.M. (KRQE) – A former cop and school district official arrested for a felony now says she deserves an apology, and she is suing New Mexico State Police.

Beverly Rodriguez was arrested for stealing from the school district where she worked, but she was never convicted.

“It was shock,” Rodriguez said.

She said she has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, including with the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

“I tried to be exemplary to other police officers. I trained police officers,” Rodriguez said.

However, she found herself on the other side of the law three years ago.

“It has been a nightmare for me,” she said.

State Police arrested her in 2012 for third degree felony larceny, saying she stole wheelchair ramps from the Cuba Independent School District while working there as head of transportation.

However, Rodriguez claims she bought the ramps legally from the District.

“The grand jury failed to indict me,” Rodriguez said.

Still, the felony arrest is still on her record.

This week she filed a federal lawsuit, saying she shouldn’t have been arrested without probable cause and that Jeffrey Smith with State Police, who led the investigation, violated her constitutional rights.

“I was publicly humiliated and I want a public apology,” Rodriguez said.

State Police said it hasn’t been served with the federal lawsuit yet, but that it already has a state lawsuit with almost identical accusations that the Department says it is “vigorously contesting.”

In response to that pending state lawsuit Rodriguez filed last year, an attorney said Smith “appropriately performed his statutory duties” and that he did have probable cause to arrest Rodriguez.

Below is a statement from State Police:

Although the New Mexico State Police has not yet been served with the complaint, the allegations are anything but new.  Instead, they are virtual copycats of those that the complainant has made in an already-pending case filed a year ago in state court in Bernalillo County.  The State Police is vigorously contesting that state court litigation and will do the same in this federal case.  It is important for us to emphasize, though, that the number one priority of the NMSP is to ensure the safety of New Mexico, its families, and all of its people.  We take all allegations of misconduct seriously, we investigate them thoroughly, and we respond accordingly.  That is what we will do in this case as well.

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