New Mexico Man Sues After Being Injured in Chase, Crash

May 11, 2020

A man has sued a New Mexico State Police officer who crashed into his vehicle in January 2019 while chasing a truck near Espanola.

Rudy Vialpando, 62, said he suffered spinal fractures and injuries to his ribs and right knee in the head-on collision, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

The lawsuit filed this week accuses Officer Emanuel Rodriguez of pursuing a driver because he was not wearing a seat belt, reaching speeds over 80 mph and even swerving into oncoming traffic before crashing into Vialpando.

He alleges Rodriguez’s report on the crash shows he did not have a reason to believe the driver “was an immediate threat to the safety of others and there was no ongoing threat which existed prior to the high speed pursuit.”

Vialpando’s attorney, Nathaniel Thompkins, argued that the pursuit violated the agency’s internal policies and state rules, which say a driver must pose a danger to someone else for officer to start a pursuit.

The lawsuit also names the state Department of Public Safety, New Mexico State Police and five supervisors.

Vialpando is seeking compensation for past and future pain and suffering, medical expenses, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life, as well as punitive damages for his injuries.

Lt. Mark Soriano, a state police spokesman, said that the agency wasn’t commenting on the lawsuit.

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