ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Sandro Tonini says it all started when his co-worker noticed she was being cited for an expired meter, despite having plenty of time left on it.
The bizarre turns of events happened late last month on Central near Sixth Street. Tonini says his co-worker ran outside to show the meter maid her meter was far from expired. Tonini ran out to support her, and started recording the situation on his phone.
What happened after that was unquestionably odd.
Tonini says the meter maid went back and forth on whether to void the ticket, but ultimately got in her car and drove about a block away. Tonini followed her, looking for a straight answer.
When she wouldn’t give one, he hopped in the back of her city truck to keep her from leaving.
“If she wasn’t going to give us results and do her job properly, then I wasn’t going to let her keep doing her job,” he tells KRQE News 13.
Eventually, the meter maid’s supervisor showed up and repeatedly explained how to dispute the citation. By this point, the meter maid had said she voided the ticket. Still, Tonini and his co-worker wanted proof of that and wouldn’t leave.
The supervisor flagged down a nearby Albuquerque police officer, claiming Tonini made intimidating threats. But the officer said he was busy and couldn’t help.
Tonini says the supervisor then instructed him to wait for another officer to get to the scene. The supervisor retreated to her city-marked vehicle, on the passenger side.
“Where do I wait for the police?” Tonini said, following her to the car. When she shut the door and didn’t answer, Tonini tried to open the door.
The city worker then screamed for help and slammed the door shut.
Tonini blocked the car by standing in front of it, so the supervisor honked the horn multiple times. Eventually, the car reversed down Central Avenue and into an intersection.
“They didn’t own the fact that the ticket was fraudulently issued, they displaced the blame and they refused to provide us any proof that it had been taken care of,” Tonini said.
Tonini admits the situation was a mess and got intense, but he stands by what he did.
The City of Albuquerque sent its own account of what happened to KRQE News 13.
KRQE News 13 also interviewed Municipal Development Department’s Melissa Lozoya about what happened, who admitted the citation was wrong. But Lozoya stood by how her parking enforcement officers handled the situation.
“It’s very unfortunate that as city employees we try and do our job and we have people that threaten us make us feel very uncomfortable,” she said.
Lozoya said the city trains these employees on how to de-escalate situations like this, but in this case, she said the workers were fearful.
Read the statement from police below.
On April 26th around 10:40 am, a City of Albuquerque parking enforcement officer was writing citations on the 600 Block of Central Avenue NW. The officer said the meter was blinking red and a citation was written and placed on a vehicle. Immediately afterward, a female came up to the parking enforcement officer and asked why she received a ticket when there was still time on the meter. The parking enforcement officer went back to the meter where she saw it was blinking green. She asked the female what time she paid the meter, the female replied that she had put four quarters in at 9:30.
During this conversation, a male approached the parking enforcement officer and began verbally harassing her. The parking enforcement officer, looking to avoid a confrontation, told the female she needed go to court to clear up the citation, and she was going to leave the violation. The parking enforcement officer then drove east on Central to the 500 block.
Less than a minute after writing the citation, the parking enforcement officer voided the ticket.
The parking enforcement officer says the male and female followed her down to the 500 block of Central and continued their verbal assault. The male then jumped into the back of the parking enforcement officer’s truck and would not get out. The male and female were taking cell phone video the whole time. (see attached picture) The parking enforcement officer told the couple she had voided the citation and to stop harassing her. The parking enforcement officer then called her supervisor. Her supervisor Parking Lieutenant Angela Graham told her to get in the truck and not engage with the couple further.
Once Lieutenant Graham responded to the scene, the male continued to sit in the back of the truck for a short time. He exited the truck and followed Lieutenant Graham to the passenger side of her vehicle as the situation seemed to be resolved. However, Lieutenant Graham says the male would not allow her to close the door by grabbing it and pulling it. In fear for her safety, Lieutenant Graham screamed “Help!” twice. The male then let go of the door, and proceeded to stand in front of Lieutenant Graham’s vehicle not allowing them to leave the area. To further de-escalate the situation, the Lieutenant instructed her employee who was driving to drive in reverse on Central to 6th street to turn around and leave the area. The whole time, the male was walking in front of them.
The City of Albuquerque’s Parking Enforcement Division requests that citizen not escalate any situation with our parking enforcement officers in the field placing the safety of the officer as well as the citizen in danger. Citizens can bring their concerns to the Parking Office at Plaza del Sol 600 2nd Street SW 5th floor or by calling 311.