United States District Court, D. New Mexico
RACHAEL SMITH, as next friend and mother of, SEBASTIAN TOWLER, ETHAN TOWLER, and JESSIE TOWLER, and CHARLIE NELMS, as next friend and mother of NOAH TOWLER-NELMS and SHERRIE TOWLER, individually, and KRISTINA MARTINEZ, as Personal Representative of the estate of CODY TOWLER, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF ROSWELL, a New Mexico municipality, PHILLIP SMITH, JONATHON KELTON, JORGE ARROYO-JAMIE and DYLAN THOMAS, individually and as agents and employees of the City of Roswell, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint and/or
Motion for Summary Judgment on the Grounds of Qualified
Immunity and Protections Afforded under the New Mexico Torts
Claims Act, and Memorandum of Law in Support Therefore, filed
November 12, 2015. (Doc. 5). Plaintiffs filed a response to
the motion on December 15, 2015, and Defendants filed a reply
on January 22, 2016. (Docs. 19 & 23). Having reviewed the
motion, the accompanying briefs, and relevant law, the Court
GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendants' motion.
I. Background This is a police excessive force case
arising from an incident in which Defendants Roswell Police
Officers Jonathon Kelton, Jorge Arroyo-Jaime, and Dylan
Thomas (together, the “officers”) Tased and
ultimately caused the death of Cody Towler (“Mr.
Towler”). Plaintiffs originally filed this case on
October 29, 2014, in the Fifth Judicial District Court,
County of Chaves, New Mexico. (Doc. 1-2). Defendants removed
the case to this Court on November 5, 2015. (Doc. 1).
to Defendants removing the case, Plaintiffs filed a Second
Amended Complaint for Wrongful Death and Damages and
Liability under the Tort Claims Act, and for Violations of
Civil Rights (“Second Amended Complaint”) in the
Fifth Judicial District Court on October 27, 2015. (Doc.
1-51). The Second Amended Complaint alleges six counts. In
Counts I through IV, Plaintiffs bring New Mexico Tort Claims
Act (“NMTCA”) claims against the officers for
negligence, assault and battery, res ipsa loquitur,
and a spoliation claim. Id. at 5-8. In Count I,
Plaintiffs further allege that Defendants City of Roswell and
Phillip Smith (“Officer Smith”), in his official
capacity as the Chief of Police, negligently hired, trained,
and supervised Defendants Kelton, Arroyo-Jaime, and Thomas.
In Count V, Plaintiffs allege loss of consortium in violation
of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Id. at 8-9. Finally, in Count VI, Plaintiffs bring
42 U.S.C. § 1983 Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claims
for unreasonable search, excessive force, and failure to
provide medical care against Defendants Kelton, Arroyo-Jaime,
and Thomas and a corresponding municipal liability claim
against Defendants the City of Roswell and Officer Smith.
Id. at 9-14.
now move to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint, or, in the
alternative, for summary judgment on all claims. The officers
raise a qualified immunity defense with respect to the
Section 1983 claims. Further, the officers argue that they
are statutorily immune from the NMTCA state law claims.
Plaintiffs oppose the motion in its entirety.
Standard of Review
the Court will examine exhibits outside the Second Amended
Complaint in addressing the merits of Defendants' motion,
it is appropriate that the Court use a summary judgment
standard of review in its analysis. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12(d) (if a party presents the court with “matters
outside the pleading” and the court does not exclude
those matters, then “the motion must be treated as one
for summary judgment under Rule 56.”).
judgment is appropriate if the moving party shows
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Once the moving party meets
its initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the nonmoving
party to set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. See Schneider v. City of Grand
Junction Police Dep't, 717 F.3d 760, 767 (10th Cir.
2013). A dispute over a material fact is
“genuine” only if “the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court views
the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party
and draws all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving
party's favor. Tabor v. Hilti, Inc., 703 F.3d
1206, 1215 (10th Cir. 2013).
defendant moves for summary judgment on the basis of a
qualified immunity defense, the Court “still view[s]
the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party
and resolve[s] all factual disputes and reasonable inferences
in its favor.” Estate of Booker v. Gomez, 745
F.3d 405, 411(10th Cir. 2014). Unlike other affirmative
defenses, the plaintiff bears the burden of overcoming the
defense of qualified immunity. Id. “This is a
heavy burden.” Carabajal v. City of Cheyenne,
Wyoming, 847 F.3d 1203, 1208 (10th Cir. 2017).
summary judgment stage, the Court “must grant qualified
immunity unless the plaintiff can show (1) a reasonable jury
could find facts supporting a violation of a constitutional
right, which (2) was clearly established at the time of the
defendant's conduct.” Estate of
Booker, 745 F.3d at 411. The Court may in
its discretion decide which of the two-parts of the qualified
immunity test to address first. Id. at 412.
order for the law to be clearly established, there must be a
Supreme Court or Tenth Circuit decision on point, or the
clearly established weight of authority from other courts
must have found the law to be as the plaintiff
maintains.” Medina v. City and Cty. of Denver,
960 F.2d 1493, 1498 (10th Cir. 1992). As the Tenth Circuit
“A clearly established right is one that is
‘sufficiently clear that every reasonable official
would have understood that what he is doing violates that
right.'” Although plaintiffs can overcome a
qualified-immunity defense without a favorable case directly
on point, “existing precedent must have placed the
statutory or constitutional question ‘beyond
debate.'” “The dispositive question is
‘whether the violative nature of the particular
conduct is clearly established.'” In the
Fourth Amendment context, “the result depends very much
on the facts of each case, ” and the precedents must
“squarely govern” the present case.
“[Q]ualified immunity protects ‘all but the
plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the
Garcia v. Escalante, 2017 WL 443610, at *4 (10th
Cir.) (quoting Aldaba v. Pickens, 844 F.3d 870, 877
(10th Cir. 2016) (citations omitted)). The United States
Supreme Court has “emphasized that the
clearly-established inquiry ‘must be undertaken in
light of the specific context of the case, not as a broad
general proposition.'” Id. (quoting
Mullenix v. Luna, 577 U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 305, 308
(2015)). On the other hand, “[t]he law is also clearly
established if the conduct is so obviously improper that any
reasonable officer would know it was illegal.”
Id. (quoting Callahan v. Unified Gov't of
Wyandotte Cty., 806 F.3d 1022, 1027 (10th Cir. 2015)).
a defendant's conduct is objectively reasonable is a
legal question, but a factual question may arise when there
is a dispute regarding the historical facts material to the
objectively reasonable issue. Roska ex rel. Roska v.
Peterson, 328 F.3d 1230, 1251 (10th Cir. 2003) (holding
that objective legal reasonableness of officer's actions
is legal question whereas “where the ‘historical
facts material to [that] issue are in dispute [there] ...
[is] an issue for the jury.'” (citation omitted)).
As the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals instructs,
[i]f the plaintiff does not satisfy either portion of the
two-pronged test, the Court must grant the defendant
qualified immunity. If the plaintiff indeed demonstrates that
the official violated a clearly established constitutional or
statutory right, then the burden shifts back to the
defendant, who must prove that “no genuine issues of
material fact” exist and that the defendant “is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” In the end,
therefore, the defendant still bears the normal summary
judgment burden of showing that no material facts remain in
dispute that would defeat the qualified immunity defense.
When the record shows an unresolved dispute of historical
fact relevant to this immunity analysis, a motion for summary
judgment based on qualified immunity should be
Olsen v. Layton Hills Mall, 312 F.3d 1304, 1312
(10th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).
Facts and Reasonable Inferences Viewed in the Light Most
Favorable to Plaintiffs
February 4, 2013, at approximately 2:00 a.m., Mr. Towler was
in the area of South Union, West Buena Vista Drive and
Ridgecrest, in Roswell, New Mexico. (Doc. 1-51) at ¶ 13.
Officers from the Roswell Police Department
(“RPD”) were dispatched to Mr. Towler's
location on a complaint of a disorderly person and a possible
fight. (Doc. 5-1) at 132:17-21; (Doc. 5-2) at 167:22-168:4.
Defendant Officer Thomas arrived on the scene first,
identified himself as an RPD officer, and asked Mr. Towler to
speak to him. (Doc. 5-1) at 146:9-12. Mr. Towler turned to
face Officer Thomas, deployed an asp baton, and then turned
and walked away from Officer Thomas. Id. at
146:15-147:2. As Mr. Towler walked away, he was yelling,
screaming, hitting objects with his baton, and not listening
to Officer Thomas' commands. Id. at 150:17-25.
Officer Kelton arrived on the scene after Officer Thomas, at
which point Mr. Towler was walking away from the officers and
into an alleyway. (Doc. 5-1) at 154:18-20; (Doc. 19-3) at
180:19-22. Officers Thomas and Kelton waited a minute and
then followed Mr. Towler into the alley. Id. at
190:4-12. According to Officer Thomas, Mr. Towler was ahead
of the officers by approximately 30 yards and would
periodically turn around and take several steps towards the
officers and then turn back and continue walking down the
alley. (Doc. 19-1) at 183:6-13. Officer Kelton described the
steps as “quick and deliberate.” (Doc. 5-2) at
209:7-18. During this time, Mr. Towler continued to yell,
wave his baton, and ignore the commands of the officers to
stop and drop the baton. Id. at 205:9-11; (Doc.
19-1) at 186:5-11.
Mr. Towler turned around and charged the
officers. (Doc. 5-2) at 205:21-24. Officer Kelton
explained that this charge was different than the other
advancements because “[i]t was with ferocity.”
Id. at 209:1. It is not clear from the officers'
depositions where in the alley this charge took place because
Officer Kelton's statements were not consistent and
conflicted with Officer Arroyo-Jaime's statements as to
Mr. Towler's final location. Compare (Doc. 19-3)
at 210:17-212:25, 294:9-295:6; with (Doc. 19-4) at
149:11-18; and (Doc. 19-6) at 4. When Mr. Towler was
5 yards away from the officers and running towards them,
Officer Kelton deployed his Taser. (Doc. 5-2) at 214:7-14. The
prongs from the Taser struck Mr. Towler in his chest, Officer
Kelton described Mr. Towler as falling to his hands and knees
and dropping his baton. (Doc. 19-3) at 215:1-18. Officer
Thomas stated that because Mr. Towler was running at the
officers, he was unable to brace himself and fell down hard
when hit by the Taser prongs. (Doc. 19-2) at 4. From this
point forward, Mr. Towler did not have his baton and was
unarmed. (Doc. 19-3) at 215:9-22, 217:7-9.
Taser seemed to slow down Mr. Towler initially, but he began
to get back on his feet during the 5 second Taser
cycle. Id. at 215:1-2, 216:14-18,
218:22-25. The two officers were giving Mr. Towler commands
to stop resisting, but Mr. Towler began to pick up handfuls
of rocks and tried to throw them at the
officers. (Doc. 5-1) at 192:11-193:4. Mr. Towler was
Tased a second time when Officer Thomas deployed his Taser
approximately six seconds after Officer Kelton. (Doc. 19-3)
at 219:16-21. This second Tasing “hampered” Mr.
Towler, but did not subdue him. Id. at 220:10-25.
Officer Thomas' Taser prongs hit Mr. Towler in the chest
and on the top of his head. (Doc. 19-1) at 199:19-200:22.
Officer Thomas explained that the prong hit Mr. Towler on the
top of the head because Mr. Towler was reaching down to pick
up rocks. Id. Officer Thomas and Officer Kelton next
ran Taser cycles together. Id. at 221:8-10. Officer
Kelton described these Tasings as more effective, but stated
that Mr. Towler continued to resist and tried to rip the
Taser cords off. Id. at 221:11-18. At this point,
Mr. Towler had been Tased four times, two times each by
Officers Thomas and Kelton.
Kelton admits to running at least one more cycle of his
Taser, which he states was not effective. (Doc. 19-3) at
224:24-225:12. However, the Taser logs for Officer Kelton
show that he ran six five-second Taser cycles in total;
therefore, he must have run four more Taser cycles at this
point. (Doc. 19-7) at 6. After running his last Taser cycle,
Officer Kelton holstered his Taser because he did not believe
it was having enough effect and drew his firearm.
Id. at 224:7-10, 227:6-10.
thereafter, Defendant Officer Arroyo-Jaime arrived in the
alley, heard Tasers being deployed, and saw Mr. Towler on his
knees, flailing, and throwing rocks in the air. (Doc. 19-4) at
171:12-15, 173:17-19. Officer Arroyo-Jaime observed what was
happening for 30 seconds to one minute, after which he Tased
Mr. Towler himself. (Doc. 5-1) at 209:21-23; (Doc. 5-3) at
187:16-18; (Doc. 19-4) at 183:19-22. Although Officer
Arroyo-Jaime stated that he Tased Mr. Towler because he did
not believe Officer Thomas' Taser was having any effect
on Mr. Towler, Mr. Towler was on his knees and screaming, but
not “making any sense.” (Doc. 5-3) at 187:19- 23;
(Doc. 19-4) at 182: 15-23, 188:13-15. Officer Thomas stated
that Officer Arroyo-Jaime Tased Mr. Towler in the
back. (Doc. 19-3) at 232:9-11.
officers stated that the Tasing was effective at this point
and Mr. Towler dropped to the ground on his stomach and he
was incapacitated immediately. (Doc. 5-1) at 209:23-25; (Doc.
19-3) at 241:18-23; (Doc. 23-4) at 191:21-192:14. Officer
Thomas stated that this Tasing was immediately effective and
was more effective than the last Tasings. (Doc. 19-3) at
236:14-17. However, Officer Arroyo-Jaime Tased Mr. Towler a
second time, this deployment was simultaneous with a Taser
deployment by Officer Thomas. Id. at 239:14-17. In
total, Officer Arroyo-Jaime Tased Mr. Towler four times and
Officer Thomas Tased Mr. Towler five times. (Doc. 19-7) at
1-4. Mr. Towler was therefore Tased 15 times by Officers
Kelton, Thomas, and Arroyo-Jaime.
Officer Arroyo-Jaime ran his last Taser cycle, Officer Kelton
was able to pull Mr. Towler's left arm behind his back
and cuff it. (Doc. 5-1) at 209:25-210:1. Officer Arroyo-Jaime
stated that Officer Kelton was able to cuff Mr. Towler's
left arm easily without any “pain
compliance.” (Doc. 19-4) at 193:12-22; 194:9-13.
(Doc. 19-3) at 245:16-19. Even so, Officer Kelton testified
that Officer Arroyo-Jaime used pain compliance to help
Officer Kelton with Mr. Towler's left arm by striking Mr.
Towler's thighs with his baton. (Doc. 19-3) at
255:19-256:18. After securing Mr. Towler's left arm,
Officer Thomas kicked Mr. Towler's shoulder or upper arm
between 5 and 10 times with his boot and Officer Arroyo-Jaime
kicked Mr. Towler's lower, right torso and struck his
thigh twice with a baton to free Mr. Towler's right arm
from under his body. (Doc. 5-1) at 210:13-20; (Doc. 19-3) at
253:1-25; (Doc. 19-4) at 193:23-194:8. Officer Arroyo-Jaime
stated that the officers did not try to free Mr. Towler's
right arm in another way before using pain compliance. (Doc.
19-4) at 196:20-198:9.
the officers handcuffed Mr. Towler, Officer Arroyo-Jaime
stated that he continued to move and fight, so the officer
sat on Mr. Towler's legs to hold him down. (Doc. 5-3) at
205:6-10). Officer Burkowski, sat on Mr. Towler's feet
and Officer Arroyo-Jaime detailed that Officer Kelton was
sitting on top of Mr. Towler. (Doc. 5-2) at 4-18; (Doc.
19-4) at 209:10-19. The sergeant on duty, Sergeant Sharpe,
indicated that he saw between 3 and 5 officers on top of Mr.
Towler when he arrived at the scene. (Doc. 19-8) at 2. At
some point, Officer Arroyo-Jaime felt Mr. Towler kick his
back, so he asked another officer, Officer McKinnon, to
legs. (Doc. 19-3) at 205:11-16. Officer Arroyo-Jaime stated
that Mr. Towler calmed down after his legs were shackled.
Kelton stated that he and Officer Arroyo-Jaime were sitting
on Mr. Towler's legs when Sergeant Sharpe radioed that
Mr. Towler was in custody, which occurred at 2:12:37
a.m.(Doc. 19-3) at 252:1-12; (Doc. 19-4) at
213:28-23. At 2:17:04 a.m., Sergeant Sharpe called for an
ambulance, which is standard after Tasers are used on an
individual, and told the officers to get off of Mr. Towler.
(Doc. 5-2) at 269: 10-17; (Doc. 19-3) at 264:1-9. When the
officers got off Mr. Towler, he remained lying face down.
(Doc. 19-4) at 222:7-8.
2:18:56 a.m., the officers saw that there was a problem with
Mr. Towler and called a code three for an emergency. (Doc.
5-2) at 269:21-25. The officers rolled Mr. Towler to his side
and checked his pulse and pupils and found that Mr. Towler
was not breathing. (Doc. 23-2) at 268:6-10. At 2:21:30 a.m.,
the officers reported starting CPR. (Doc. 19-3) at 44:20-25,
272:13-16. The officers did not have face masks, so they did
not perform mouth-to-mouth CPR, but they did perform multiple
rounds of chest compressions. (Doc. 23-2) at 39:12-40:5,
273:4-8. Mr. Towler was pronounced deceased on February 4,
2013. (Doc. 1-51) at ¶ 9.
from the scene show Mr. Towler had facial lacerations. (Doc.
19-10). Officer Arroyo-Jaime testified that Mr. Towler did
not have the facial lacerations when Officer Arroyo-Jaime
arrived at the scene. (Doc. 19-4) at 186:11-18. He stated
that the facial lacerations more than likely occurred when
the officers were subduing Mr. Towler and acknowledged that
the injuries could have been caused by Mr. Towler's face
being rubbed against the gravel on the ground. Id.
at 186:19-22, 218:1-9.
terms of training, Officer Kelton stated that he was trained
to give pauses between Taser deployments and to minimize the
number of deployments. (Doc. 19-3) at 240:21-241:2, 281:3-17.
Officer Arroyo-Jaime admitted that he learned that it was
important to limit the number and duration of Tasings and
that arrestees should be placed in a seated position to avoid
positional asphyxiation. (Doc. 19-4) at 249:18-24,
244:23-245:2. IV. Discussion Defendants moved for
summary judgment on all of Plaintiffs' claims under
Section 1983 and the NMTCA. The Court will address each in
Count VI: Section 1983 Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment Claims
Against the Defendants
bring unreasonable search, excessive force, and failure to
provide medical care claims under both the Fourth and the
Fourteenth Amendments. (Doc. 1-51) at 11-13. Before
discussing the claims, the Court will review which Amendment
is proper for Plaintiffs' unreasonable seizure and
excessive force claims.
Which Amendment Covers Unreasonable Seizure and Excessive
Unreasonable Seizure Claims
well-established that if “a particular [Constitutional]
Amendment provides an explicit textual source of
constitutional protection against a particular sort of
government behavior, that Amendment, not the more generalized
notion of [Fourteenth Amendment] substantive due process,
must be the guide for analyzing these claims.”
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 273 (1994)
(internal quotation marks omitted). In the context of
unlawful seizures, the Fourth Amendment is the appropriate
Amendment to apply when the government behavior at issue
“lead[s] up to and include[es] an arrest of a citizen
previously at liberty . . . .” Porro v.
Barnes, 624 F.3d 1322, 1325 (10th Cir. 2010). That is
the case here and so the applicable Amendment is the Fourth
Amendment and not the Fourteenth Amendment. Therefore, the
Court will dismiss the Fourteenth Amendment unreasonable
seizure claims with prejudice.
Excessive Force Claims
Fourth Amendment is also the appropriate Amendment to apply
when one contends that the government used excessive force in
the arrest of a citizen. Id. Moreover, the Fourth
Amendment governs when an officer uses excessive force after
the warrantless arrest of a person but prior to that person
being “brought before a judicial officer for a
determination of probable cause to arrest.” See
Frohmader v. Wayne, 958 F.2d 1024, 1026 (10th Cir.
1992). In this case, the applicable Amendment is the Fourth
Amendment, not the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court will,
therefore, dismiss the Fourteenth Amendment excessive force
claims with prejudice. 2. Fourth Amendment Unreasonable
Seizure Claims a. Law of Unreasonable Seizure
“A police officer violates an arrestee's clearly
established Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable
seizure if the officer makes a warrantless arrest without
probable cause.” Olsen, 312 F.3d at 1312
(citing Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 7 (1985)).
“Probable cause exists if facts and circumstances
within the arresting officer's knowledge and of which he
or she has reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient
to lead a prudent person to believe that the arrestee has
committed or is committing an offense.” Romero v.
Fay, 45 F.3d 1472, 1476 (10th Cir. 1995) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted). “When a
warrantless arrest is the subject of a [Section] 1983 action,
the defendant arresting officer is entitled to immunity if a
reasonable officer could have believed that probable cause
existed to arrest the plaintiff.” Id.
[w]hen there are unresolved disputes of historical fact
relevant to whether the officer had probable cause and to
what information he possessed-and thus to whether he may
properly claim qualified immunity, a court may not grant
summary judgment based on qualified immunity because the
officer would not have shown that no genuine dispute exists
as to material fact.
Olsen, 312 F.3d at 1312-13.
Fourth Amendment law, there are “three categories of
police-citizen encounters: consensual encounters,
investigative stops, and arrests.” Morris v.
Noe, 672 F.3d 1185, 1191 (10th Cir. 2012). The issue in
this case is whether seizing Mr. Towler was justified as an
investigative detention, a Terry stop. An officer
justifiably conducts a Terry stop when the officer
has a reasonable, articulable suspicion that a crime is being
committed. Id. (citing United States v.
Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 7 (1989)). “A detention
ceases to be a Terry stop and becomes an arrest if
it continues for an excessive time or closely resembles a
traditional arrest.” Id. at 1192 (citing
Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Ct. of Nev., 542 U.S.
177, 186 (2004)). Although the Tenth Circuit has held that
the use of handcuffs generally exceeds the scope of a
Terry stop, the Tenth Circuit has approved
“takedowns” and handcuffing during Terry
stops to “maintain the status quo” or “to
protect [officers'] personal safety, ” if
“the circumstances reasonably warrant such
measures.” United States v. Melendez-Garcia,
28 F.3d 1046, 1051-52 (10th Cir. 1994).
Whether the Officers are Entitled to Qualified Immunity
on Plaintiffs' Section 1983 Claims for Unreasonable
argue that the officers had reasonable suspicion sufficient
to stop Mr. Towler and probable cause to subsequently arrest
him. (Doc. 5) at 13. The officers contend that when they
arrived on the scene, Officer Thomas announced himself as RPD
and asked to speak to Mr.
Id. at 14. Mr. Towler responded by turning to face
Officer Thomas, deploying a baton, and then turning around
and walking away from Officer Thomas while screaming and
hitting objects with his baton. Id. The Officers
maintain that they did not arrest Mr. Towler until after he
charged at them while holding the baton. Id.
state that the officers did not have probable cause to arrest
Mr. Towler. (Doc. 19) at 35. Plaintiffs admit that
“[i]f the jury concludes that Mr. Towler charged the
officers without provocation, obviously, probable cause for
his arrest existed.” Id. However, Plaintiffs
maintain that they are “entitled to the
inference” that the officers deployed their Tasers at
Mr. Towler's back and the back of his head in order to
stop Mr. Towler as he was walking away from them.
officers arrived on the scene after a call regarding a
disorderly person and a possible fighting. As described
above, when Officer Thomas encountered Mr. Towler at the
scene and announced he was from the RPD, Mr. Towler faced
Officer Thomas, deployed a baton, then turned around and
walked away screaming and hitting objects with his baton. Mr.
Towler refused to obey the officers' instructions or
identify himself to the officers. Consequently, Officer
Thomas could reasonably conclude that a crime was being
committed, specifically concealing one's identity, a
petty misdemeanor in New Mexico. See NMSA 1978,
§ 30-22-3 (Repl. Pamp. 2004). Based on these facts, the
officers were justified in trying to detain ...