War­rants dropped in re­filed Taos traf­fic stop case

The Taos News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Cody Hooks chooks@taos­news.com The Taos News

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.

Bill Baron

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.

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