A man who was flying a drone with a sex toy attached during a campaign event for Albuquerque, N.M. mayoral candidate and Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales was arrested following a scuffle near the stage after someone in the crowd grabbed the object.
Video of the incident posted to Facebook (see around the 27:23 mark) shows the drone hovering within feet of Gonzales for several moments after he acknowledges its presence. Shortly thereafter, a man identified in various reports as the owner of Revel Entertainment Center, where the sheriff was speaking, is seen coming into the frame and snatching the dangling sex toy from the device.
Next, a man identified as 20-year-old Kaelyn Dreyer attempted to grab the drone back, KOB4 reported.
“At some point, some people sprung up and they were carrying signs and it was a coordinated effort, very intentional and these people were trained,” Gonzales said.
After he failed to grab the drone, Dreyer turned to the sheriff, who remained on the stage throughout, and “balled his fist and swung it,” according to a criminal complaint. The sheriff and mayoral candidate tried to move but was “struck in the hands,” the complaint added.
“He tried to take a swing at me and he glanced across my arms and struck me,” Gonzales told the news outlet. “And I just took a step back. It wasn’t anything I was very concerned about. I’ve been in a lot worse situations.”
The sheriff was not seen being assaulted in the video because several people obscured the camera’s view during the incident.
Court documents state that Dreyer “never intended to hit Manuel but was upset that Manuel was answering a question, from the crowd, in a disrespectful way. He stated that he did ball his fist and was just going to swing them through the air and leave.”
A spokesperson with the sheriff’s mayoral campaign told reporters an off-duty deputy “de-escalated the assailant’s efforts.” Video shows Dreyer being pinned to the ground by several people and then being taken into custody and removed from the event. He has since been released from jail on his own recognizance, KOB4 reported.
Gonzales blew off the incident, which he believes was part of an organized protest, but maintained that law and order are still necessary.
“It became so distracting from the sound and everything I couldn’t really get my point across,” Gonzales, who is running for mayor as a Democrat, told the Albuquerque Journal, adding that he believes some of those who came to the event to act out were “political operatives” and that “it was a coordinated effort, very intentional, and these people were trained.”
“I understand the First Amendment, and if you want to come to an event that we’re hosting, you have the right to speak freely but at the point where you commit a crime with the people that we have there, you’re going to go to jail,” Gonzales said.
“Those people were planted there,” Gonzales added. “They went there. They didn’t go over there to have a civil discourse, they were there to disrupt. And they did act out that violence. So to me, it’s very intentional.”
The sheriff went on to imply that the people involved may have links to the campaign of his rival, fellow Democrat and incumbent Mayor Tim Keller, though a spokesperson from Keller’s campaign denied involvement.
“By now people have seen the video where Manny was interrupted by a drone with an adult toy attached to it. No question it was disruptive, rude and immature,” Keller’s campaign manager, Neri Holguin, told the Journal. “We denounce demeaning antics and urge residents to participate in the political process in a respectful manner.”
“To suggest we were behind it is pathetic and the kind of desperation that has marked Manny’s troubled campaign,” Holguin added.