Man files federal lawsuit, claims jail officer battered him

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – A man is calling it cruel and unusual punishment in a federal lawsuit, claiming he was mistreated when he was booked into jail more than a year ago.

The plaintiff’s attorney says the video speaks for itself when it comes to taking a close look at what happened that day.

Before he made it behind bars at the Dona Ana County Jail on November 27, 2015, video shows Timothy Black, hands cuffed behind his back, getting a pat-down.

Jail Officer Luis Ruiz was booking him into jail when it got physical.

This is how Black’s attorney, Jess Lilley, describes what happened to his client: “[He was] slammed to the ground without any sufficient reason face first and was knocked unconscious.”

Video shows Black lying completely still after hitting the ground and, even as officers try to lift him up, Black’s head hangs forward.

“Certainly that’s not how you treat someone who’s been knocked unconscious,” Lilley said.

Black filed a federal lawsuit in October against Ruiz and the Dona Ana County Board of Commissioners in charge of the jail.

The lawsuit cites the “constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment for use of force against pretrial detainees” and claims “Ruiz acted maliciously and wantonly.”

“Anybody watching the video can see that it was totally unprovoked,” Lilley said.

A county commissioner told KRQE News 13 he couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Attorneys are fighting the claims in court.

The jail launched an investigation after the incident and Ruiz faces a criminal trial since pleading not guilty to a charge of aggravated battery. That criminal trial is scheduled to start at the end of next month.

KRQE reached out to Ruiz’ attorney but did not hear back.

Black is asking for punitive damages in the federal lawsuit. His attorney says it was a traumatic and painful experience, but Black did not sustain any permanent injuries that he’s currently aware of.

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