Man sues Farmington police, accuses officers of excessive force during arrest

Farmington police say plaintiff tried to pull gun on officer

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
Farmington Police Department stock art.
  • Adrian Head filed the lawsuit in state district court on July 14, listing the City of Farmington, Police Chief Steve Hebbe along with Officers James Prince and John Briseno.
  • Head’s lawsuit details his allegations that he levies against the police department and the two officers from a traffic stop in the summer of 2019.
  • Head’s serving his sentence in the New Mexico Department of Corrections.

FARMINGTON — A man has filed a civil lawsuit against the Farmington Police Department, accusing the officers of excessive force. His suit alleges he was slammed headfirst into the ground after being handcuffed while an officer was kneeling on his legs.

Farmington police contend the plaintiff attempted to pull a firearm on the officers during the traffic stop, which led to his arrest in the summer of 2019.

Adrian Head filed the lawsuit in state district court on July 14, naming the City of Farmington and Police Chief Steve Hebbe along with Officers James Prince and John Briseno.

Head seeks an unspecified amount of damages.

More:Former state cop Daniel Capehart convicted by jury of three federal drug charges

Farmington police in a statement said Head tried to pull a handgun on the officers, claiming Head put the officers' lives at risk as well as public safety.

“The officers’ quick and decisive action was needed in this situation, and I strongly believe they did the right thing to protect themselves and the citizens of Farmington,” Hebbe said.

Lawsuit details allegations against Farmington police

Head’s lawsuit details his allegations, which stem from a traffic stop in the summer of 2019.

The complaint states the incident took place on July 15, 2019, when Farmington police stopped a pickup truck Head was a passenger in around Bluffview Trailer Park at 1315 S. Bluffview Ave.

Head was removed from the vehicle and detained after being contacted for not wearing a seat belt, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff claims he was forced to the ground, then an officer saw a firearm on him. The suit says the officer threw the gun across the parking lot and then handcuffed Head.

Head said in the lawsuit he was placed on his knees near the patrol vehicle with Officer Briseno restraining him.

More:Man killed by police allegedly wielded firearm at Shiprock gas station, led vehicle pursuit

Brisenso is accused of placing his knees on Head’s calves, then pushing the plaintiff’s head into the ground with one hand on Head’s back and the other on his head, according to court documents.

The complaint alleges the two officers didn’t attend to Head’s injuries in a timely manner. An unknown amount of time occurred before he was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center.

Head claims he has multiple injuries including multiple abrasions and contusions to his face along with a laceration on his cheek and head.

He was diagnosed with a “closed head injury” along with a closed fracture nasal bone and contusion of the face.

Details on charges against 

Head was arrested at the scene by Farmington police.

He was accused of seven charges including felony counts of aggravated assault upon a peace officer, possession of a firearm by a felon and receiving stolen property, according to court documents.

The probable cause statement said an officer felt a metal object in Head’s hand and saw a handgun.

Head was accused of trying to “manipulate” the gun toward an officer, before it was knocked free from Head’s hand and the gun was thrown on the ground, according to court documents.

More:Farmington police establish video surveillance camera network across city

The defendant plead guilty to attempted possession of a firearm by a felon and receiving stolen property and was sentenced to five years and six months in prison during a hearing on Aug. 31, 2020.

The aggravated assault charge was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Head is serving his sentence in the New Mexico Department of Corrections. 

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e