LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) — Law enforcement officers have expressed frustrations about “catch and release,” when criminals are let out of jail shortly after they’re booked. But in this case, a suspect in New Mexico was able to slip away from custody on his own, escaping from a police station — and it was captured on video.
Video from New Mexico State Police officers shows an encounter with a man accused of driving a stolen truck last month.
Jesus Jimenez told NMSP officers his wife’s car broke down, so he borrowed the truck from a friend.
“My wife’s vehicle that we drove broke,” Jimenez told officers.
When the officer checked the VIN number on the truck, dispatch informed him the truck was reported stolen. Jimenez had his wife and kids in the truck.
When his wife was asked where the truck came from, she told the officers on the scene it belonged to “one of [Jimenez’s] friends in Albuquerque. I don’t know the friend.”
The officer’s report shows the ignition on the stolen truck was tampered with. Jimenez said he didn’t have text messages with his friend, or any other evidence to support his story that the truck was loaned to him.
The truck was towed. Jimenez was arrested and transported to the New Mexico State Police station in Los Lunas for booking.
An officer placed Jimenez in a holding cell and left the room to start the paperwork. In the officer’s body-cam video, you can hear the door latch and see the officer’s hand closing the door. Then the video clip ends.
KRQE pieced together other surveillance camera angles obtained through a public records request. The videos show Jimenez, at one point, no longer in the holding cell, but standing in a doorway at the police station. He is then seen slowly inching out of the police station.
One angle shows that Jimenez’s left hand is already slipping through the handcuffs as he approaches an exit. He checks to see if anyone is outside through a window on the exit door, then pops it open. Within two minutes, Jimenez had let himself out of the police station.
Outside, he calmly walks toward the street. He’s also seen sliding his left hand completely out of the handcuffs.
Ten minutes after the escape, surveillance video shows the booking officer noticing Jimenez’s disappearance.
“It appears that the lock on the door malfunctioned and Jimenez was able to open it and leave the office undetected,” New Mexico State Police spokesperson Ray Wilson said in a statement to KRQE. “An internal investigation was launched to determine why the lock malfunctioned and if there were any violations of policy and procedures.”
State Police put out an alert following Jimenez’s escape. Four hours later, he was spotted and arrested at a home in Los Chavez, New Mexico. Wilson said he was not wearing handcuffs at the time.
“Where the cuffs at?” an officer asked Jimenez, who replied, “I don’t have them, man,” Wilson said the handcuffs were later recovered.
This time, officers made sure Jimenez was tightly handcuffed before placing him in a patrol car.
Jimenez’s wife said she’d gotten a call from him asking for a ride home. She told police officers, “He didn’t really explain too much with me. He didn’t have handcuffs on him when me and my mom picked him up.”
The officers left her with a warning. “Never get into a vehicle with somebody where the ignition’s all jacked up. He’s going to jail for a while,” an officer said.
Court records show Jimenez was released from jail two weeks later. He has a hearing scheduled at the end of the month.