Warren McCowan (2015)
On August 21, 2015, Las Cruces New Mexico Police Department Officer Mark Morales pulled Warren McCowan over for driving without headlights. McCowan was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated. McCowan states that he was handcuffed, placed in the back of the police vehicle without being secured with a seat belt, and that Morales drove at high speeds while deliberately jerking the car, causing McCowan to be slammed "like a pingpong ball". McCowen also claims to have been further injured at the police station.
In February 2016, the headlight and DWI charges against McCowan were dismissed.
In 2017, McCowan filed a lawsuit, claiming violations of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
In August 2019, Morales resigned from the department, while he was on administrative leave on matters unrelated to McCowan’s allegations.
The District Court ruled that Morales' actions violated McCowan's rights, and Morales was not entitled to qualified immunity.
On December 27, 2019, the Tenth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Morales' appeal.
In 2021, the lawsuit was settled for $180,000.
No body cam footage was available and cameras at the police station were reportedly "not working" at the time of the incident.
- Las Cruces pays $180,000 to settle lawsuit over ‘rough ride’ in police car, Albuquerque Journal, 2021-10-04
- McCowan v Morales Opinion, Tenth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, 2019-12-27