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‘Why did he need to be choked?’ Lawyer says client plans to sue city of Sunland Park & former chief for March incident

SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico - The man whose neck was seemingly grabbed in March by the former chief of the Sunland Park Police Department now plans to sue, according to his attorney.

"It's a classic case of abuse," said Kelly O'Connell, the man's attorney. "Physical abuse.”

As ABC-7 reported, city leaders fired former Chief Javier Guerra after an incident on March 17th. In a video released by the city, former Chief Guerra appears to approach a detainee whose wrist is chained to a bench at the department. In that video, it appears as though Chief Guerra grabs the detainee's neck for at least seven seconds. The video does not have audio.

"The City does not condone the behavior depicted in the video," wrote the Sunland Park city manager in a statement released on April 7th. "The City’s investigation is ongoing and cannot provide further comment at this time.”

O'Connell said he represents the man who was chained to the bench, Marcos Solis. O'Connell said his client is in the midst of filing a lawsuit against the city of Sunland Park and former Police Chief Javier Guerra.

“I ask again, how many people has this happened to?" O'Connell questioned on Monday. "It was not a violent resistance on his part. Why did he need to be tackled? Why did he need to be choked?”

Officers originally arrested Solis in connection with four charges: aggravated fleeing of a law enforcement officer, aggravated DWI, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to notify owner upon striking fixture or property.

According to the New Mexico court system, prosecutors dismissed all charges in late April.

"They didn't want this to come to court," O'Connell said. "If you're involved in something that's embarrassing or illegal, you don't want to put more focus on it."

ABC-7 asked the Third Judicial District Attorney's Office to comment on why the charges were dropped. A spokeswoman said she would look into it.

On Monday, Interim Sunland Park Police Chief Eric Lopez said the New Mexico State Police Department is still investigating the incident from March. While the investigation is ongoing, he said the city has no further comment.

ABC-7 also made multiple attempts on Monday to reach Guerra's attorney, but as of 4:45 p.m., had not heard back.

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Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.


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