Drawn to the scene by a bonfire, Nogales police arrested a 27-year-old woman with a felony warrant from Maricopa County and cited a 20-year-old male for underage drinking at a home on the 600 block of North Western Avenue early last Saturday morning.
NPD said officers approached the apartment after noticing a large fire outside the building around 2 a.m. Contact with the residents revealed that a woman at the home, Ambar Priscilla Collelmo, had an active warrant for her arrest.
However, Adaly Collelmo, who lives in the home with his mother and two young brothers, said the police went overboard, forcefully entering the residence without a warrant and throwing his 16-year-old cousin to the ground.
After police circled the home shining flashlights in the windows, they pounded on the door, he said. When he started to open it they pushed their way inside, hitting him with the door and busting his upper lip.
As four officers came inside, Collelmo said, he reached in his pocket for his phone, hoping to record the interaction, but the police thought he was reaching for a gun and drew their weapons. He was taken to a patrol car where officers gave him a Breathalyzer test and cited him for underage drinking.
While outside, he could hear his teenage cousin being tackled by the police, he said. The cousin did not sustain injuries, but Collelmo said the officers ripped his jacket while forcing him to the ground.
“I could hear him saying, ‘Please stop, you guys are hurting me, I can’t breathe,’” he said.
Collelmo claims that officers entered the home without a warrant and without permission, and the chaotic scene was traumatic to his 7- and 8-year-old brothers who were in the house. The youngest one, he said, saw the officers point their weapons at him before taking him outside.
“We were all scared,” he said. “To be honest, I thought I was going to die when they pointed their guns at my face.”
He further alleges that when he asked an NPD officer, who identified himself as a sergeant, why they entered his home without a warrant he was told they could do what they wanted. And when he asked the sergeant to take a picture of his bleeding lip where an officer entering the house hit him with the door, he was mocked.
“He’s like, ‘Oh you need medical attention?’ Like making fun of me,” he said. “Because they busted my lip. It wasn’t that bad, but it did really hurt.”
Collelmo also questioned the report that the 10 police cars arrived at his family’s home because of the bonfire in the yard, adding that the fire was almost out by that time and that they often have bonfires at the residence without incident.
In an emailed statement, Sgt. Robert Fierros said that after reviewing the report with the Specialty Division lieutenant, NPD “found no violations on the officers’ part with the investigation they conducted and the arrests that resulted from that investigation.”
Fierros referred additional questions, including whether the officers had a warrant to enter the home, to the City Attorney’s Office.
A summary of the incident in NPD’s weekly media report also states that the officers were investigating a fire that appeared unsafe and called the Nogales Fire Department to extinguish the flames.