Man sues after being shot in head by New Mexico sheriff

New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico sheriff who shot an Arizona man in the head following a slow-speed chase in a front-loading tractor used excessive force and violated the man’s civil rights, a federal lawsuit claims.

In court papers filed last week, an attorney for James McFarlin wrote that Roosevelt County Sheriff Malin Parker “acted with reckless indifference when he opened fire” on the then 48-year-old man in an open field nearly two years ago.

McFarlin led authorities on a slow-speed chase through Portales, New Mexico, after he rammed the tractor into his wife’s car, according to deputies.

The lawsuit said McFarlin went into a field following the chase and drove in circles while refusing commands from deputies to stop.

Parker, who was off-duty at the time, arrived, aimed his shotgun out of his patrol car, and shot McFarlin, the lawsuit alleged. Shots from other deputies at the front-loader’s tires had previously failed to stop McFarlin, the lawsuit said.

“One of Sheriff Parker’s shotgun rounds pierced through the back of Mr. McFarlin’s skull while another penetrated the flesh of his right ear,” court documents said.

Lapel video showed a disoriented McFarlin speaking with deputies moments after he was shot and telling them he ran from them because his wife divorced him.

McFarlin was later indicted on charges of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer and criminal damage to property of a household member. Court records show he is scheduled to stand trial in May.

An attorney for McFarlin said Parker’s use of excessive force was unnecessary and caused him to suffer vision loss, memory problems and neck pain.

Roosevelt County Manager Amber Hamilton said the county received the lawsuit on Tuesday and officials haven’t reviewed it yet. “The county does not typically comment on matters of pending litigation,” she said.

Parker was placed on leave following the shooting. In May 2018, 9th Judicial District Attorney Andrea Reeb cleared the sheriff of any charges and determined that Parker “was worried about the preservation of human life.” when he shot McFarlin.

McFarlin, who now lives in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

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