A 29-year-old woman was recently awarded a $175,000 cash settlement from the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, after a sanitation worker attempted to rape her in her home while on the job. The civil suit was filed by the victim in 2010 after city employee Marcel Sifuentes Rodriguez, who purportedly snorted cocaine just prior to his shift, broke into her house, held her hostage and attempted to rape her. Subsequent to his unsuccessful attempt, he reportedly got back in his garbage truck and continued to collect trash on his daily route. Though he was arrested and charged with unlawful intrusion, he was set free without having spent one day behind bars. Rodriguez was immediately fired from his job after his arrest, but because the crime took place while he was on the clock, the city is now left responsible for footing the bill; he received just four years probation while the city and its taxpayers have been sentenced to pay for his misdeeds. The civil suit held firm that the town was responsible for the crime because it was carried out on their time.
City leaders in Albuquerque stated they agree, having expressed extreme disappointment over the events that took place on that day. Speaking to the press, Rob Perry, the city’s chief administrative officer, said, “This employee’s actions put the city in an indefensible position. His conduct was intolerable. He was immediately fired. We also settled the civil lawsuit to avoid further costs to the city and taxpayers as a result of this inexcusable behavior.”
This isn’t the first time residents of Albuquerque have had to shell out mountains of cash to settle claims brought against the municipality; far from it. According to city records, between 2014 and 2016, 100 cases were settled, which saw taxpayers contributing more than $12 million on the city’s behalf, though further payouts were made to settle other cases that didn’t affect the wallets of the town’s residents. In addition to the aforementioned cases, the city also paid $6.5 million to Jacob Grant, an Albuquerque police department (APD) detective who was shot by his lieutenant, and $5 million to the family of James Boyd, a mentally ill homeless man who was shot and killed by two APD officers in March of 2014. In Boyd’s case, the gruesome act was caught on video, leading to charges of second-degree murder for the offenders, former police officer Dominique Perez and former detective Keith Sandy.
Boyd, who suffered from schizophrenia, was found to be camping illegally in the foothills of Sandia, which led to a standoff between him and officers on the scene. Regarding the senseless killing of a psychologically disturbed man, attorney Jessica Hernandez stated she believed it was best to settle the case rather than carry on in court. She told the press, “We are hopeful that resolving this difficult and emotional case is a significant step in moving forward as a community. The City and the Department are committed to the reform efforts that are already underway, including specialized training in managing situations involving mental health issues.”
As for this most recent settlement, the victim agreed to accept the $175,000, as the case has already dragged on for six years and assumedly, she would like to put the terrifying ordeal behind her, though it would appear the city of Albuquerque is in desperate need of some serious change.