Las Cruces man says police put his life in danger for arrest

Las Cruces man says police put his life in danger for arrest

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - On Feb. 22, Daniel Vega-Albela, a New Mexico State University music professor, got in a taxicab to go home.

He told ABC-7 he had no idea about the situation that was unfolding with his taxi driver, Darren Henry.

"He pulled away from the driveway and that's when I saw several cop cars that were right outside, blocking the exit to that street," Vega-Albela said.

Las Cruces Police said that earlier that night, Henry went to a North Las Cruces neighborhood and got in an argument with his ex-girlfriend. Police said Henry shot her new boyfriend at least once in the leg. About 30 minutes later, Henry was back at work, picking up Vega-Albela.

"Knowing that this had happened not more than half an hour before he picked me up makes me more angry because they knew this guy has to be in not a very stable mental condition at this point, yet they still let me get into that vehicle," Vega-Albela said.

After police arrested Henry, Vega-Albela said they handcuffed him and treated him as a criminal.

He said his $25,000 violin was left in the back seat of the taxi as police detained him for more than an hour.

"I told them, 'I need my instrument. It's valuable. It's what I use for work.' He's telling me, 'Well, human life supersedes private property no matter how valuable it is.' I'm thinking, 'OK, you're lecturing me about the value of human life when you have placed me in a situation that could have potentially ended up in me being shot?'" he told ABC-7.

Vega-Albela said police refused to return his violin but could not give him a straight answer why.

He feels the way police handled the entire incident was irresponsible and negligent.

"What if this man was armed and dangerous? What if he decided that he was going to pull his weapon? Then I'm stuck in the crossfire between a taxicab driver and the police. What if he decided he was going to take me hostage?" he said.

Vega-Albela said police returned his violin the next day.

He has filed a report with the internal affairs office of the Las Cruces Police Department.

A spokesman for LCPD said he cannot comment until the investigation is complete.

Vega-Albela said he is now talking to his attorney about possibly filing a lawsuit against the police department.

"If we can put a price on them deciding to risk my life for the sake of an arrest, so they will think twice next time they decide to do something that stupid, of course I will pursue something like that," he said.

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