Breastfeeding Mom Arrested in Mistaken Identity

ByABC News
August 26, 2005, 10:04 AM

Aug. 26, 2005 — -- Colorado police are investigating a woman's complaint about how she was ordered to stop nursing her baby, thrown against her family car with her blouse still open, and taken away to jail in handcuffs in what turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.

"I'm in shock," said the woman's husband, Ricky Archuleta, describing the incident. "The baby's screaming. The kids start crying and screaming and I don't know what to do. I actually don't know what I said. I said something, and he [the state trooper] just yelled in the car and said, 'You need to be silent.' "

The June 12 arrest stemmed from a case of mistaken identity by police, and charges against Mercedes Archuleta have been dropped.

But the mother, who wound up spending a night in jail, recently told John Ferrugia of ABC News Denver affiliate KMGH-TV that she was terrified and humiliated by police mistakes and rough treatment.

"I thought I was going to get sick," Mercedes Archuleta said. "I felt like I was going to faint. I was humiliated because I was there with this stranger, and here I am with my blouse undone and he didn't give me a chance to tie it up. And I was just so worried for my baby."

Maj. Jim Wolfinbarger of the Colorado State Patrol said the agency is investigating the arresting officer, who he declined to name, over Mercedes Archuleta's allegations about the treatment she received as she was arrested.

"Any of those allegations involving inappropriate uses of force, or the trooper's demeanor being inconsistent with the policies of this agency, those are being looked into," Wolfinbarger said.

However, he added, Archuleta's arrest itself was proper given the existence of an erroneous arrest warrant initiated by another department.

"From a trooper's standpoint out on the road," he said, "when you have a state-issued license from a person in the vehicle, and you have a warrant that is confirmed valid the individual -- it's under the order of a judge -- will be taken to a jail."