The Santa Fe Police Department on Wednesday released lapel cam videos of a demonstration against president-elect Donald Trump, including footage of three arrests that took place shortly after the protest wound down.
Sergio Muterperl, 30, faces the most serious charge: felony battery on a police officer, which carries up to 18 months in prison. Police claim Muterperl, along with Travis Barnes and Morgan Cook, led a march of hundreds of protesters on a route that included parts of Cerrillos Road, Marcy Street and Paseo de Peralta. On top of Muterperl’s felony charge, all three protesters are charged with resisting arrest and standing on a roadway.
Prosecutors allege Muterperl caused injury to Officer Alejandro Arroyo’s right shoulder. A criminal complaint states Muterperl "forcibly pulled away" to escape the officer's grasp and caused Arroyo to fall down nine steps at the Santa Fe Plaza Arcade.
Here is footage of Muterperl’s arrest from Arroyo’s point of view. (Starting at 5:40)
Officers can be heard saying “stop” to the protesters in question as they run away from them. Arroyo apparently falls as he attempts to apprehend Muterperl in a stairwell. It is unclear from the video whether Muterperl intentionally pulls the officer down the stairwell, but it’s clear that at one point the two men made physical contact.
“I’m going to tase you,” Arroyo appears to say after falling.
“Why the fuck are you going to tase me? Why are you arresting me?” Muterperl says in response.
Shortly after Muterperl is placed in handcuffs, Arroyo can be heard saying, “I fell.” Speaking to another officer later in the video, he can be heard saying, “We went down, both of us."
Upon viewing the video late Wednesday, one of the attorneys representing the protesters, Mariel Nanasi, tells SFR, "No one ever told our clients they were under arrest. The police created the confrontational situation that resulted in an officer getting hurt. Officer Arroyo clearly said 'I fell.' There is no evidence that Sergio pushed him or caused the police officer to fall.”
She adds, "I think there will be a finding of not guilty or a dismissal of charges."
Police spokesman Greg Gurulé says the officers approached the defendants because they appeared to be the leaders of the march. Gurulé says the protesters were in trouble when they started to run. “Our officers don’t know know what these people are going to do next going to do next. If you have a runner running from a situation, you’re going to go after them," he says.
Gurulé adds, "We followed them. We chased them, and they ran into the building. When we ran into the building, they struggled with us. You don’t fight with law enforcement officers."
SFR obtained another lapel cam video from the demonstration that shows the pursuit of a protester who was detained, but not arrested. Here’s that video, starting from when the demonstration begins to wind down:
Officers walk into the crowd on the Plaza. One officer can be heard saying, “Let’s get him,” corroborating an earlier claim by Nanasi.
After a chase, Sergeant Stephen Cosban, who is wearing the camera, apprehends a protester. The protester is wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. The officer asks the man, “Why are you running?”
The protester appears to answer, “Because I didn’t want to be frisked.” Upon request, he removes his mask.
Barnes and Cook are seen in the frame, wearing handcuffs.
Cosban can later be heard speaking, apparently, on a phone. He says, “All we wanted to do was talk to them. We told them to stop. They continued running."
“You’re not arrested. Okay? When you were told to stop, you stopped. You’re not the one who was inciting it,” Cosban says to Vigil. "You can’t protest without a permit, number one. And number two, you can’t block traffic. And sitting in the street, that is totally illegal. And that’s inciting a riot … You aren’t the one up there yelling and screaming. [unintelligible] We know who they were."
Nanasi tells SFR comments from both videos show that police “targeted" Muterperl, Barnes and Cook “because they were among the leaders of this demonstration.” She disputes a claim in the second video that the officers only wanted to “talk,” saying, “If all you want to do is talk, you don’t chase after someone."
Police spokesman Greg Gurulé tells SFR the officers involved in the arrests intended to speak with the protesters to help “calm" the situation on the Plaza.
But by the time the officers started approaching the soon-to-be arrested protesters, the crowd of about 200 was beginning to disperse from the plaza. Shortly before the arrests, a child can be heard speaking into a megaphone, saying, “We should build a wall around Donald Trump.”
Santa Feans had earlier held stationary rallies at the Roundhouse and the Plaza to protest the results of Tuesday’s election.