Black New Mexico Homeowner Files Lawsuit After Police Mistook Her for a Burglar

An Abiquiu, New Mexico homeowner has filed a federal lawsuit against the Rio Arriba Sheriff’s Department after a wrongful arrest back in 2014.

After moving from New York state, Charlene Carroll moved to the rural community to get some peace and quiet. However, that peace came to screeching halt on Aug. 25, 2014 during an encounter with deputies. In an exclusive with KOB 4 News, Carroll tells reporters that she was adjusting quite well to her new home before the arrest.

“My neighbors have accepted me,” Carroll says. “I’ve pretty much been accepted in the jobs that I have here. But this one incident, I couldn’t believe it was happening.”

According to KOB 4 News, one of her neighbors called in a suspected burglary around 10:45 pm on the 25th. She recalls working on the computer when she saw people outside her home. “He walked around the house peeping in the windows so he could see that nothing was amiss,” she explains.

The two men were deputies Randy Sanches and Brandon Archuleta, per court documents. They told Carroll that they were investigating the 911 call and demanded entry into her home. But the homeowner requested a search warrant before she granted them access to her home.

“I said [to them], ‘So I’m arrested on my own front porch now?’” Carroll recalls saying. “I was taken out of [the] handcuffs. Officer Archuleta escorted me all of the way to the bedroom on the other side of the house where I pointed to a picture of myself on the wall.”

She also showed the officers on scene her driver’s license but officers did not believe her. Officers did not let her go until the neighbor that made the 911 call arrived and told them she was not the suspected burglar.

“It doesn’t matter how educated I am,” Carroll reflects. “It doesn’t matter how much money I have [or] what kind of person I am. I will always be defined by the color of my skin and that’s just the way it is.”

However, the Rio Arriba Sheriff’s Office refutes her claims put forth by the lawsuit. In a response, the department states that Carroll did not identify herself as the homeowner. They also denied that deputies demanded to be let in the home.

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