NEW ALBANY — The wife of a man who alleged Louisville police pulled handguns on him during a traffic stop says department officials accused him of lying during a meeting last month.
A Louisville Metro Police Department spokesperson said last week the investigation into the claims made by New Albany resident Tomas Montalvo is ongoing. Montalvo said in a previous interview with the News and Tribune that he was pulled over by multiple police officers, who he believed to be LMPD, during a traffic stop at about 6 a.m. on April 9 after he crossed the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge on his way to work.
Montalvo said plainclothes officers alleged they had a warrant for his arrest out of Florida and demanded he exit his vehicle. Montalvo said his anxiety increased due in part to the tone of the officers and because he was confused as to why he had been stopped. According to Montalvo, who is part Cuban and Nigerian, the vehicle was registered to his wife and he’s never lived in Florida.
Montalvo said he declined to exit the vehicle because he was afraid of what would happen, and asked to speak with a police supervisor. Officers threatened to pull him from the vehicle at one point before what appeared to be a supervisor showed up at the scene and confirmed Montalvo wasn’t the person they were looking for, according to Montalvo.
The incident gained attention following social media posts by Montalvo’s wife, Jennifer Ortiz, who is a college professor and the president of the New Albany Human Rights Commission.
An LMPD spokesperson acknowledged on April 10 that the department had been made aware of the allegations, adding that it was unclear whether Louisville police were involved in the incident. The following week, LMPD met with Montalvo and the department’s Professional Standards unit began an investigation.
Since then, the News and Tribune has asked regularly for updates, including Friday, and was informed by LMPD each time that the investigation was ongoing.
During a phone call Monday, Ortiz said she didn’t understand why LMPD was alleging that the investigation was ongoing. She said in early June, LMPD officials met with Montalvo and that it “was not a friendly meeting.”
Ortiz said she went with her husband to the meeting but wasn’t allowed in for the proceedings. Ortiz said Montalvo left the meeting “in tears” and told her they had accused him of lying.
“They asked him what it was he was hiding,” Ortiz said. “They seemed to suggest that he’s making the whole thing up.”
LMPD investigators told him they had found no video footage to support his claims, Ortiz said. She found that “hard to believe” since there are street cameras in the vicinity of the bridge.
An email and a phone message left for LMPD’s media relations department had not been responded to as of Monday evening.
Ortiz emphasized the incident wasn’t made up by Montalvo. She said he’s struggled with nightmares and trauma since the traffic stop.
When asked what their next steps would be, Ortiz said she’s been contacted by lawyers and others encouraging the couple to file a lawsuit.
She said Montalvo has undergone therapy since the incident and she’s worried that filing a lawsuit could take more of a toll on him.
“I’m so concerned with my husband’s mental health because of this interaction that I’m not sure I could put him through that,” she said.