William Albrecht was driving his dog Stella to the vet with his wife and 16-year-old son back in July after the pet was hit by a car.
The family had jumped in the car immediately after the labradoodle was struck near the family’s home in Rio Rancho and were speeding down Interstate 550 through Bernalillo when a police cruiser stopped them.
“I imagined if he was going to pull me over for speeding, I’d pull over. He’d say something to me and then maybe even help us get there. You know, I’ve heard of stories like that before, but that didn’t happen, ” Mr Albrecht told KRQE.
Police videos from the traffic stop obtained by KRQE showed Officer Jeramie Nevarez ordering Mr Albrecht out of the car at gunpoint, swearing at him while he did so.
“Face the f*** away from me!” the officer shouts at him. He then continues to shout orders such as: “Step back! Step f***ing back! Go to your left! F***ing faster! Get on your knees!”
Mr Albrecht, who has no shoes on, is forced by the officer to walk backwards towards traffic on the busy road, all the while the gun is still pointed.
Mr Albrecht tried to plead with the officer by saying to him “my dog’s gonna die,” but his pleas were ignored.
Mr Albrecht’s wife, Tara, started to record on her phone what was happening after she saw her husband being immediately held at gunpoint, rather than the officer approaching the family’s car to speak to them.
“I’m thinking, this is unbelievable,” Ms Albrecht said. “I can’t believe — it’s like, why didn’t someone just come check with us? Find out what the reason our speeding was and help us?”
The situation escalated when three other officers arrived on the scene, who then also pointed their guns at Ms Albrecht and their son, Remi Albrecht.
“I saw my son was sticking his hands out the window, too, like, dude, our dog’s going to die,” Mr Albrecht said. “I was scared. I was genuinely scared.”
Their son tried to point in the position of his mother, who was holding their dog, who was bleeding from its head, but “none of them seemed to even care at the moment at all,” Mr Albrecht told KRQE.
Mr Albrecht, who was then handcuffed and being walked to the police car, was still pleading with the officers that their dog was about to die.
“I don’t give a f***,” Officer Nevarez responded. “Okay,” Mr Albrecht said.
His son was also being directed towards a police car. When Mr Albrecht saw this he said to the officer: “I can’t believe you’re doing this, sir.”
Officer Nevarez responded: “Jesus f****** Christ, man!”
“I can’t believe you pulled your gun on my kid, sir,” Mr Albrecht said to the officerm who replied: “It’s policy.”
“Oh yeah, I hear ya,” Mr Albrecht responded.
The policy in question was sourced by KRQE, but it states that “the level of force employed must be commensurate with the threat posed by the subject and the seriousness of the immediate situation”.
Yet the family had no weapons or warrants attached to their vehicle or names.
Another officer who was checking on Ms Albrecht convinced Officer Nevarez to let the family go.
As his cuffs came off, Mr Albrecht said: “Dude, you’re something else, man.” Officer Nevarez replied: “You’re something else sir,” before saying: “Good luck with your dog.”
Unfortunately, the family dog did not make it and died shortly after they arrived at the vet.
Officer Nevares wrote a report on the incident, claiming that Mr Albrecht was speeding and driving recklessly. He also wrote: “I drew my department-issued firearm and pointed it towards the immediate threat. I yelled for the driver to get back inside the vehicle.”
He said that Mr Albrecht “looked mad with his hands clenched in the air.”
However, the lapel video footage shows that there was never a car pursuit, the officer never walked up to the car to enquire why they were speeding and in fact, the officer was yelling at Mr Albrecht to get out of the car rather than stay inside.
Mr Albrecht also had his hands raised, rather than clenched and looked scared rather than mad.
Officer Nevarez claims Mr Albrecht didn’t pull over immediately, but he says as soon as he saw the police lights he stopped.
“I do think it was an excessive use of force and an unnecessary use of force and this is why people are fearful of the police,” Maria Martinez, the legal director for ACLU New Mexico, told KRQE.
“I would never put my son in a position like that, ever,” said Mr Albrecht. “I back the blue. I support the blue. Like, I always want to show him that, you know, you submit to these guys. That you’re supposed to be able to trust them.”
ACLU is now representing the Albrecht family on this case and will likely file a lawsuit on their behalf. The local outlet tried to reach Bernalillo police, but have yet to hear from them.