Catron County Man Found Guilty of Misdemeanor Offense for Failing to Follow Direction of U.S. Forest Service Officer
ALBUQUERQUE – Yesterday afternoon following a one-day bench trial, a U.S. Magistrate Judge sitting in Las Cruces, N.M., found Alvin Brent Laney, 28, guilty of the misdemeanor offense of failing to stop his vehicle when directed to do so by a U.S. Forest Service officer. The U.S. Magistrate Judge acquitted Laney of a second misdemeanor offense, interfering with a U.S. Forest Service officer. U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez and Special Agent in Charge Robin Poague, Southwest Region, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations, announced the verdict.
Laney, a resident of Luna, N.M., was charged in a two-count misdemeanor information with interfering with a U.S. Forest Service officer engaged in the performance of his duties, and failing to stop a vehicle when directed to do so by a U.S. Forest Service officer. According to the misdemeanor information, Laney committed the two offenses in Catron County, N.M., on Jan. 11, 2015.
During the one-day bench trial, a U.S. Forest Service officer testified that while he was on duty in a marked patrol car in the Gila National Forest in Catron County on Jan. 11, 2015, Laney tailgated his patrol car for approximately four miles before illegally passing the officer’s patrol car and another vehicle on a blind curve. The officer activated his patrol car’s emergency lights and sirens, and pursued Laney along U.S. Highway 180. Laney failed to stop his vehicle and continued to drive for at least a mile and a half, while passing areas where he could have safely pulled over, even though the officer was pursuing him with lights and sirens. Laney finally came to a stop and parked his vehicle next to a Catron County deputy sheriff’s patrol car.
The U.S. Forest Service officer testified that when he approached Laney, Laney claimed that the officer did not have the authority to pull him. Laney, who testified in his own defense, claimed that he did not remember what he said to the officer. The evidence at trial included a video recording from the deputy sheriff’s lapel camera that captured part of the exchange between the U.S. Forest Service officer and Laney, including a statement by Laney questioned the officer’s authority to pull him over.
After rendering the verdict, the U.S. Magistrate Judge ordered Laney to pay $135 in fines and court costs.
The case was investigated by the Reserve Ranger District of the Gila National Forest of the U.S. Forest Service and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander B. Shapiro and Luis A. Martinez of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.