‘It appears this incident did not occur:’ LMPD investigation disproves police abuse accusation

Published: Oct. 16, 2021 at 1:15 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A Louisville Metro Police Department Professional Standards Unit (PSU) investigation has disproved a New Albany man’s allegations that officers held him at gunpoint during a traffic stop.

Tomas Montalvo told WAVE 3 News in April he had just crossed the Clark Memorial Bridge on his way to work in Louisville when two unmarked LMPD cars pulled him over on 2nd Street, with a third following closely behind. Montalvo said officers told him he had a warrant for his arrest out of Florida. When he tried to refute their claim, Montalvo said the officers drew their weapons.

“He got really agitated and he just kept cursing and said, ‘Get the f*** out of the vehicle or I’m just going to end up having to shoot you,’” Montalvo said in April.

He said after a short period of time, a supervisor arrived on scene and allowed him to go home.

“I just stayed looking, focused at the front of my car, because I didn’t want none of their faces to be the last thing I saw,” Montalvo said.

Montalvo filed a PSU complaint a few days after the event and LMPD began investigating the situation.

Six months later, WAVE 3 News obtained a copy of the investigation, which not only disproves Montalvo’s claim, but refutes even the existence of the traffic stop itself.

The file is roughly 200 pages and includes transcripts of interviews with Montalvo and his wife Jennifer Ortiz, surveillance video from 11 nearby businesses and a step-by-step process to find potential officers involved. The file also showed investigators met Montalvo and Ortiz back at the alleged scene, looking to learn more details about what happened in person.

The surveillance video did not show any traffic stops conducted at the place and time Montalvo claimed. A database search also showed no body camera video from that area and time period, meaning officers were not present at that location at the time. Furthermore, a department-wide search for officers who could’ve been working at the time and also fit Montalvo’s description, showed no one responded to a call for service in that area at that time.

The investigation even reached LMPD Chief Erika Shields, as shown by a memorandum she wrote that closed the investigation. The memorandum reads:

“I have determined to ‘Close by Exception”' the above cited investigations regarding Professional Standards Case #21-015, due to no officers being identified as it appears this incident did not occur. No further action need be taken.”

After obtaining the report, WAVE 3 News reached out to Ortiz, asking for an additional interview or statement in response to the investigation.

Through an email, she said:

“I am unsure why they are releasing this information now but they informed us of the outcome of their investigation on June 1, 2021 when they accused my husband of lying, segregated him from me, and then proceeded to interrogate him as though he were a suspect in a crime. My husband has spent months in therapy processing the incident the LMPD now suggests never happened. Given that the LMPD is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice, I have no doubt they have a vested interest in covering up any and all wrong doing. As I’ve stated in the past, my family never sought monetary compensation nor have we retained an attorney. What could possibly be our motivation for filing a complaint other than justice? Our only hope was to get some justice for my husband, for someone at the LMPD to apologize for the trauma they inflicted. Given the LMPD’s history of racism and violations of constitutional rights, perhaps my mistake was naively believing that the LMPD investigation would ever lead to justice.”

Ortiz is the President of the New Albany Human Rights Commission.

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