Warrants dropped in refiled Taos traffic stop case
Warrants for the arrest of two people involved in a traffic stop that escalated in February have been dropped.
Phillip Page and Angela Fisher-Herrera appeared in a Taos magistrate courtroom before Judge Ernest Ortega Tuesday (Aug. 21) for arraignment in their cases.
New Mexico State Police officer Eduardo Cardinas pulled over Page Feb. 18 for allegedly not wearing a seat belt. The half-hour traffic stop ended with State Police officers asking Page several times to “unlock his window” that was cracked only a few inches. When Page didn’t roll down his window any further or get out of the car, an officer smashed the driver’s side window, and with the help of two other State Police officers, pulled Page to the ground, according to official state records and a video the defendants released on Facebook earlier this month.
Page and Fisher-Herrera, who recorded the viral Facebook video on her cell phone, were each charged with three misdemeanors, including dialing 911 to report a false complaint. Page also was charged for not wearing a seat belt. They spent several days in the Taos County jail. The charges were dropped in March for “lack of prosecution” but refiled by the state in April.
The defendants say they missed a new court date because certified letters advising them of a new court date were not received at their requested address. The court issued bench warrants for their arrest.
During Tuesday’s arraignment, Ortega ordered the warrants be dropped but assessed each a fee of $100.
They both have a pretrial hearing set for Sept. 20. While neither Page or Fisher-Herrera have decided if they’ll use a public defender or private attorney, they have said that if the charges aren’t dropped, they want to pursue a jury trial.
Page maintains he was wearing his seat belt, he didn’t feel safe due to aggressive behavior by the officer, and the traffic stop was politically motivated as their car was covered with political bumper stickers. One sticker read, “Hey, is it just me, or is America turning into a totalitarian police state?”
New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas has defended the officer’s actions as reasonable because the defendants would not comply with the officers’ orders.
An internal state police review of an officer’s camera footage showed Page was asked 14 times for his identification, asked 20 times to either unlock the door or roll down the window and another three times to get out of the car before the officers broke the window and pulled Page from the car.
The Taos News has added one police video of the interaction, from a town of Taos officer, to our coverage online. More videos will be uploaded as they are processed.
Phillip Page, who was charged with four misdemeanors related to a February traffic stop, entered a not guilty plea during an arraignment Tuesday (Aug. 21) before Magistrate Judge Ernest Ortega.