Lawsuit: NM deputy made man kneel on hot asphalt

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque man suffered severe burns to his knees and buttocks after a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy forced him to kneel and sit on hot asphalt for nearly half an hour, according to a new federal civil rights lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque said deputy Chris Starr made Jonathan Griego, 23, kneel on the scorching asphalt during a June traffic stop on a day when temperatures reached 96 degrees in the city. Starr demanded that Griego kneel and sit on the asphalt where he was forced to “literally cook” after a needle was found in his pocket, court papers said.

In a response to the lawsuit, Jonlyn Martinez, an attorney representing the county, denied Griego’s allegations and asked a judge to throw out the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Starr ignored Griego’s complaints that the heat was burning through his pants and undergarments. Shannon Kennedy, Griego’s lawyer, said a medical report concluded that Griego suffered second-degree burns on his knees. “The photos are just awful,” Kennedy said.

Griego was later given citation for possession of drug paraphernalia but Starr did not appear for the court date and the ticket was dismissed, Kennedy said.

The burnings caused “embarrassment, humiliation, pain and suffering and emotional distress,” the lawsuit said.

Martinez did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press.

She said Griego may have suffered third-degree burns on his buttock.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and legal fees.

A conference on the case is scheduled Jan. 29.


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