New Albany man ‘traumatized’ after traffic stop; officers confused him with wanted man
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A New Albany man said he was traumatized after officers pulled him over, thinking he was a wanted man.
Tomas Montalvo said he fought back tears while describing what happened to him on Friday.
Montalvo was on his way to work, crossing into downtown Louisville around 6 a.m. Friday when two unmarked vehicles pulled him over as he was exiting the Second Street Bridge.
“They were in plain clothes and I see them tuck their badges inside of their shirt,” Montalvo said. “So they approach the window and they told me that I have a warrant in the state of Florida, and I look at the officer and I said I think you’re mistaken.”
At first there were two officers; Montalvo said one of them was very aggressive.
“I lowered my window a little bit and I didn’t dare open my window anymore after that because he took his pistol out of his holster,” Montalvo said. “He got really agitated and kept cursing, (saying) ‘Get the f-out of the vehicle’ or ‘I’m just going to have to shoot you.’”
Two more officers approached Montalvo’s car with flashlights.
“I just didn’t dare look at them because I didn’t want to, I wanted to stay looking and focused on the front of my car because I didn’t want none of their faces to be the last thing I saw,” Montalvo said.
After fearing being shot, Montalvo said he asked for a supervisor.
“They held me there for like 20, 25 minutes, and the supervisor came and said, ‘That’s not him, you can leave,’” Montalvo said as he clutched his wife’s hand. “So, I just wanted to go someplace where I felt safe and I went to work.”
Montalvo’s wife, Jennifer Ortiz, said it was heartbreaking to hear her husband so upset after the traffic stop.
“My husband suffers from PTSD based on childhood traumas,” Ortiz said. “So, to hear him so shaken that he could not get back in his car and come home, I told him just come home, and he said, ‘I’m just too scared to drive.’”
Ortiz is President of the New Albany Human Rights Commission, and also an assistant professor of criminology. She said she’s instructed her husband and stepson on how to deal with officers because of the color of their skin.
“I instruct them when you get in the car, put your wallet in your cup holder,” Ortiz said. “I don’t want your wallet in your pocket, because I don’t want them to say you have a firearm on you or that you were reaching for something.”
Montalvo said he hasn’t slept and has been scared to drive, adding that he wants an apology from every officer involved in the stop.
“I don’t know how I’m going to cope with it,” Montalvo said. “I’m still trying to cope with trauma, so it’s just something else to keep me up at night, and something else that I have to try to deal with and make sense of it in my life.”
In a statement from LMPD, the department said it has been in contact with Montalvo:
“We are aware of the complaint allegations being put forward by the family of Tomas Montalvo and have been in communication with them. At this time, we have been unable to determine which officer(s) may have been involved in the traffic stop, or if it was in fact LMPD. We are scheduled to speak with Mr. Montalvo early next week and hope to glean additional necessary information.”
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