A Facebook video of a traffic stop in Taos has gone viral, reaching about 90,000 views since being posted three days ago.
The 46-second video shows part of a February traffic stop where New Mexico State Police officers ask the driver, Philip Page, to “unlock his window.” After Page doesn’t roll down his window further or exit the vehicle, the officer breaks the driver-side window and with the help of two other State Police officers pull Page to the ground.
The car was pulled over because the driver was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the original criminal charges filed in Taos Magistrate Court the day after the Feb. 19 incident.
According to the police report, the couple did not identify themselves or roll down their windows after being asked by the officer repeatedly to do so. Angela Fisher-Herrera, who was the passenger in the car and recorded the video, called 911 because “she stated that she felt threatened by law enforcement presence.” Two additional state police arrived on scene, as did a town of Taos officer.
“Calm down, calm down,” Page told the officer after he broke the window. “This is completely unnecessary…,” he says in the cell phone footage, which is a portion of a 12-minute video the two people have not released on social media because they were advised “to hold onto that for now, until after the case is dismissed with prejudice, or after trial,” Page said in a Facebook comment.
Page and Fisher-Herrera were each charged with one misdemeanor for resisting an officer and two petty misdemeanors for concealing their identities and dialing 911 to report a false complaint or alarm. Page also was charged for not wearing a seatbelt.
The charges were dropped in March for “lack of prosecution” but refiled by the state in April. The defendants say they did not appear in court a second time because certified letters advising them of new charges and court date were not received at their requested address, according to emails Page and Fisher-Herrera sent to the magistrate court. The court has issued a bench warrant for their arrest.
Page told The Taos News he is returning to New Mexico to deal with the situation.
Page asked people to reach out to the court in the Aug. 3 Facebook post with the video.
“My hope is that the judge will see that the community finds this unacceptable,” read the post.
“So, if you are in Taos County, travel or visit to Taos county, you want it known this is not acceptable and you want to see this dropped ASAP. Again, help in any way you feel inspired. Please, email the court. This affects you, too. If we allow this to continue, it will get worse.”
A spokesperson for New Mexico State Police did not immediately reply to a Monday (Aug. 6) request for comment.
Some people on social media have cast blame toward the town of Taos for the incident. “This is NOT Taos Police Department Officers as many in our community believe due to the ignorance they share in just not knowing the differences,” said Taos Police Chief David Trujillo. “I have received several social media posts of the video with citizens asking why our officers aren’t fired etc. I have to explain that it is not our agency."
This is a developing story. See the Aug. 9 edition of The Taos News for more.