SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A well-known American Indian artist said police in New Mexico pulled a rifle on him after his dog pooped in his SUV and a woman mistook his cleanup efforts for a burglary.
Pueblo painter Mateo Romero told The Associated Press that a Santa Fe officer pointed a weapon at him during the bizarre misunderstanding Monday that landed him in handcuffs and in the back of a patrol car.
According to a police report, the officer pulled out a rifle and detained Romero after Maria Markus reported a burglary in progress at her Santa Fe home.
Romero said he parked into the private driveway after Han Solo, his Shih Tzu, relieved himself inside the SUV during a drive to his studio. Romero said he only wanted to clean the mess.
However, Romero said when Markus spotted him in her driveway, she boxed him in with her vehicle and called 911. “I tried to talk to her to explain that I was cleaning up dog” poop, he said. “But she got all hysterical and I just backed away. I couldn’t leave. It was crazy.”
Police said they searched Romero and released him after officers did not find any of the woman’s property on him.
“It appeared to be a misunderstanding,” the police report said. “Mr. Romero was understanding and polite.”
Mateo is an award-winning painter whose work has been exhibited in Canada and throughout the United States.