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Las Cruces man says he was wrongly imprisoned

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: Mar 19 2013 11:03:18 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 06:44:46 PM CST

ABC-7's Vanessa de la Viña reports.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

A Las Cruces man says he shouldn't have to pay thousands of dollars because of a mistake made by the Las Cruces Police Department.

In 2010, Michael Shannon was stopped for speeding and arrested on a bench warrant for violating his probation. He spent five days in the Dona Ana County Detention Center before police discovered the warrant was not valid.

"I don't know who's at fault. I can't get any answers and no one seems to want to help me," Shannon told ABC-7.

The warrant for Shannon's arrest had been issued by the Lincoln County Magistrate Court for violating his probation.

"I had no idea this could even happen to me. The warrant was taken care of years ago," he said.

New Mexico court records show the arrest warrant was quashed by a magistrate judge the same day it was issued.

Las Cruces mayor Ken Miyagishima told ABC-7 the city is not liable because police were only doing their jobs. The police department said the computer system showed Shannon had a warrant and did not show that it was no longer valid.

"You may have the paperwork, and the clerk may have the paperwork, but until they change the status on the computer, it's going to show outstanding and how is a police officer going to know?" Miyagishima said.

Miyagishima said Shannon needs to question Lincoln County about their responsibility since that is where the warrant was issued.

Shannon said this is about more than being locked in jail for no reason.

While in jail, he said he had a panic attack and was taken to Memorial Medical Center.

Now Shannon has more than $4,000 in medical bills and a collection agency is trying to take it out of his wages.

"The city's trying to say they're not going to pay for it. The county won't pay for it. I definitely am not paying for it because I shouldn't even have been in jail," he told ABC-7.

Calls to the Lincoln County manager and Magistrate Court were not returned on Tuesday.

Shannon acknowledged Dona Ana County's recent lawsuit settlement of more than $15 million for a former Dona Ana County Detention Center inmate who was jailed for nearly two years in unsanitary conditions.

Shannon said he does not want to file a lawsuit to recover the medical bills, but if he keeps getting the runaround he will.

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