United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Rueben Vincent
Maestas's Motion to Suppress (ECF No. 35). The Court held
a hearing on the motion on December 11, 2018. The Court,
having considered the motion, briefs, evidence, applicable
law, and otherwise being fully advised, concludes that the
motion to suppress should be granted.
Dennis Chavez Federal Building (“Federal
Building”) is located at 500 Gold Street in
Albuquerque, New Mexico, and houses multiple federal
agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service
(“FWS”), Housing and Urban Development, the
Veterans Administration, and the Bankruptcy Court. Dec. 11,
2018 Hr'g Tr. (hereinafter “Hr'g Tr.”)
7:2-9:10. Although the agencies operated from 8:00 a.m. to
5:00 p.m., there were federal employees working for the
agencies who stayed in the building after hours. Id.
at 9:20-10:5. Christopher Sena, a Protective Security Officer
(“PSO”), is a federal contract worker under the
Federal Protective Services (“FPS”) who at the
relevant time was assigned to the Dennis Chavez Federal
Building. Id. at 5:21-7:11, 61:25-62:6.
not a federal employee, nor is he a law enforcement officer.
Id. at 41:17-18, 49:6-7. His duties at the time
included providing security for and patrolling the grounds to
prevent vandalism at the Federal Building and the Federal
Courthouse at 421 Gold Street, which is located catty-corner
to the Federal Building. See Id. at 7:12-8:13. At
the time of the incident, the FPS maintained heightened
security vigilance at the federal building because it had
been shot at on several different occasions within the past
three years. Id. at 12:18-13:4, 64:6-65:1. PSOs were
to patrol more in the public eye so the public would be aware
security was present. Id. at 13:9-14. As a PSO, Sena
does not have arrest authority off federal property.
Id. at 49:11-13.
March 20, 2018, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Sena was on duty,
wearing his full uniform displaying his badge with the
company logo and man number. See Id. at 6:24-7:4,
13:15-22, 62:7-21. A few employees were present in the
building at the time. See Id. at 10:6-21. Sena was
escorting an FWS employee to her car in a parking garage for
safety reasons. See Id. at 14:18-15:19, 23:20-24:4.
They walked down the steps of the Federal Building and began
walking west on the sidewalk between Gold Street and the
federal property on which the Federal Building is located.
See Id. at 15:14-22, 21:24-23:13; Gov.'s
Hr'g Ex. 1 (“Video 1”). The sidewalk upon
which they walked was not federal property, but the adjacent
area to the south of the sidewalk was federal property.
See Hr'g Tr. 21:24-23:13; Gov.'s Hr'g
Ex. 2 (“Video 2”). Directly north across the
street was an occupied apartment building. See
Hr'g Tr. 16:19-25.
was filming on Fifth Street near the Federal Building.
Id. at 12:9-17. There was pedestrian traffic from a
bus stop located in front of the Federal Building, as well as
heavier traffic on Gold Street due to the diversion of
traffic around the movie set. See id.. Movie set
equipment semi-trucks were parked in front of the apartment
building. See Id. at 17:1-7; Video 1.
walked westward, Sena heard a loud pop and turned around 180
degrees to look towards where the sound came, thinking it was
a gunshot. See Hr'g Tr. 18:1-4, 44:1-18,
46:17-23. He did not immediately see anyone. See Id.
at 44:14-45:3. A few seconds later, Sena saw two persons
walking on the sidewalk in front of the apartment building
between the semi-trucks. See Id. at 18:12-19,
46:23-47:1; Video 1. The first person was a man later
identified as Defendant Maestas. Hr'g Tr. at 18:17-21.
The second person worked security for the movie set and was
stationed on the corner of Fifth and Gold Streets.
Id. at 18:21-23. The FWS employee told Officer Sena,
“Look, there is glass.” Id. at 19:16-19.
The glass was approximately 30 feet from where Sena and the
FWS employee stood. Id. at 45:11-23. None of the
glass touched him or the FWS employee; all the glass was
approximately 30 feet away from them. Id. at
55:25-56:12. From the location of the glass, Sena believed
that the bottle hit the curb and shattered across the
sidewalk and up the steps of the Federal Building.
Id. at 19:23-20:4. Sena shifted believing the sound
came from a gunshot to a thrown bottle. Id. at
19:19-22. Sena did not observe the bottle being thrown
because he was facing the opposite direction. See
Id. at 43:11-25; Video 1. Nor had he heard any yelling
about the bottle being thrown. Hr'g Tr. 55:21-24.
and the FWS employee walked west towards the corner of Sixth
and Gold Streets while he watched the legs of the pedestrians
visible under the semi-truck as they walked on the sidewalk
by the apartments. See Id. at 19:4-9, 48:1-10; Video
1. When he saw the person working security for the movie
emerge from behind the semi-truck, he asked her if the man in
front of her (later identified as Defendant Maestas) threw
the bottle, and she responded, “yes.”
See Hr'g Tr. 24:20-25:1. Sena and the FWS
employee continued walking west towards the corner at Sixth
and Gold Street. Id. at 20:5-8.
began walking north on Sixth Street toward Central Avenue.
See Id. at 24:6-9. Sena saw three people on the
northwest corner of Sixth and Gold Streets near Maestas who
were wearing uniforms marked “fugitive recovery
agents.” See Id. at 24:6-12, 49:14-22;
Video 2. Sena believed them to be providing security for the
movie. See Hr'g Tr. 24:9-12. Sena told them,
“Hey, heads-up, that guy just threw a bottle at us and
he is moving your way.” Id. at 50:4-7. The man
said “ok, ” then turned around, went back to his
post and told the other men. See Id. at 25:17-23.
The other fugitive recovery agents went after Maestas.
See Id. at 25:21-24. Sena watched them while
remaining at the corner. See Id. at 26:9-10; Video
time, Sena did not know the fugitive recovery agents were
going to bring Maestas to him. Hr'g Tr. 56:21-24. When
Sena saw the fugitive recovery agents escorting Maestas
towards Sena, Sena radioed Inspector Jose Carrillo, an FPS
Federal Law Enforcement Specialist and PSO Program Manager
for Region 7, for direction. See Id. at 26:9-14,
56:15-19, 60:15-61:12. Sena informed Inspector Carrillo that
he had just had a bottle thrown towards him and another
federal employee and the individual was coming back to his
location and asked if they should detain him. See
Id. at 26:17-22, 62:16-21. Inspector Carrillo said he
was on his way. See Id. at 26:23-25.
fugitive recovery agents brought Maestas to the corner on the
sidewalk where Sena was standing. See Id. at 27:1-6;
Video 2. Sena escorted Maestas off the street onto the curb.
See Hr'g Tr. 54:9-15. At that time, Maestas was
standing on the west side of the lamppost on the City
sidewalk, not on federal property. See Hr'g Tr.
51:9-25, 55:3-6; Video 2. Sena asked Maestas why he threw the
bottle at them. Hr'g Tr. 27:8-9. Maestas started
clenching his fists and his jaw, his eyes darting around and
sizing him up, all of which Sena believed indicated Maestas
was about to attack him, so Sena began to place him in
handcuffs. See Id. at 27:10-14, 28:14-18. Sena told
Maestas to drop his bag, so Maestas threw his bag down.
Id. at 27:15-16. Maestas's bag dropped onto
federal property. Id. at 27:22-28:1. As Sena grabbed
Maestas's wrist to begin handcuffing him, Maestas said he
was HIV positive and going to infect him. Id. at
27:17-20, 28:22-24. Maestas then said, “Fuck the Feds,
” and his name was “Enoch.” Id. at
began moving Maestas to a safer location, placing him by a
planter ledge on federal property near the Post Office's
loading dock area, where he could safely lock the cuffs and
search him for weapons. See Id. at 30:15-31:3.
Maestas then started saying he had two bombs in his backpack
and was “going to blow you up.” Id. at
31:5-12. At that time, Sena and Maestas were on federal
property. See Id. at 32:4-9, 32:22-24. Sena is
trained to take every threat seriously, so he treated the
situation as a serious bomb threat. See Id. at
Carrillo arrived in his vehicle marked with Federal
Protective Service Homeland Security Police and parked.
Id. at 32:13-21, 34:4-5, 65:10-13. Inspector
Carrillo is a federal law enforcement officer, a full-time
sworn salaried commissioned peace officer. Id. at
60:25-61:8. Inspector Carrillo's duties include enforcing
federal laws, rules, and regulations while on federal
property; investigating crimes, on and off federal property;
overseeing security at all federally owned and leased
facilities; and overseeing the PSO program. Id. at
61:15-21. Inspector Carrillo was wearing his full police
uniform with Federal Protective Service Department of
Homeland Security Police badge. Id. at 65:6-9.
Inspector Carrillo approached Maestas, he told him he was
with FPS and that they take these types of threats seriously.
Id. at 67:6-10. Maestas continued cursing,
“Fuck the feds, ” and repeating that he was going
to blow them up. See Id. at 33:15-22, 67:12-14. Sena
took Defendant behind a nearby wall for “hard
cover” in case of an explosion. See Id. at
34:9-16. Inspector Carrillo conducted a protective frisk of
Maestas for weapons and explosives. Id. at
68:18-69:7. Maestas continued to say he was HIV positive, he
was going to blow them up, that his name was Enoch, and
“Fuck the feds.” Id. at 68:22-69:1.
After frisking Maestas, Inspector Carrillo read Maestas his
Miranda rights, and called the Denver MegaCenter to
get support from Albuquerque Police Department to divert the
public away from Defendant's bags. See Id. at
69:9-71:17. Meanwhile, Sena created a safe perimeter,
directing pedestrians and traffic away from the bags.
Id. at 35:23-36:10. Albuquerque Police Department
bomb squad was called to determine if there were any
explosive devices in the bags. Id. at 36:17-25.