Lawsuit filed over handcuffing

By CNJ Staff

A civil rights lawsuit alleging excessive force by a Clovis patrol officer has been filed against the Clovis Police Department, the city and the officer, according to court records filed in the 9th Judicial District Court.
In a complaint filed in August, Charles Middleton, 39, of Colorado alleged Clovis Police officer David Lester injured him when he was handcuffed during a traffic stop in August 2004.

Pulled over for speeding, Middleton was administered a field sobriety test, which he passed, according to the complaint. In the process of being released from the scene, Middleton made a disparaging remark about Lester, the complaint said. Lester placed Middleton under arrest for DWI after overhearing the remark, the complaint said.

Middleton stated in the complaint he told Lester the cuffs were too tight and Lester taunted him about the handcuffs, calling him a “moron.”

The suit is seeking unspecified damages and legal costs.

According to court records, prosecutors dismissed charges against Middleton of aggravated DWI and speeding in September 2005. Middleton pleaded no contest to resisting, evading or obstructing an officer.

The lawsuit was forwarded Aug. 23 to federal court in Albuquerque, and is awaiting scheduling, according to a records clerk there.

Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas referred inquiries on the case to Albuquerque attorney Stephen G. French. French did not return calls seeking comment.