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 federal civil rights lawsuit.
The lawsuit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque alleges 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 court documents filed in response to the lawsuit, Jonlyn Martinez, an attorney representing the county, denied Griego’s allegations. Martinez also asked that a judge dismiss the suit.
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 Griego suffered second-degree burns on his knees. “The photos are just awful,” Kennedy said.
She added the burns on Griego’s buttocks were even worse than those on his knees.
Griego later was cited 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 call seeking comment from The Associated Press. Starr does not have a listed phone number.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and legal fees.
A conference on the case is scheduled for Jan. 29.