June 30, 2015

Family of slain teen questions TV report of shooter

A man who claims he killed Jaquise Lewis in the March 22 Los Altos Skate Park shooting spoke anonymously to KOB-TV last week.

Blue LightsThe TV news segment featured the man’s silhouette and didn’t release his identity “because he has not been charged with a crime, and police have not finished their investigation.” The report described him as a 22-year-old father.

In the report, the man said he carries a gun with him everywhere he goes. He used it that night, according to what he told KOB, when he saw an argument over a skateboard escalate into gunfire. The man said he saw 17-year-old Lewis shoot two people. He told KOB he shot Lewis to protect himself and the others at the park.

From KOB:

“He walked back and he was reloading because he had a revolver so he didn’t have many bullets,” he explained. “That’s when I saw him point the gun up against another group of people. So I felt that our life and other lives were still in danger so I fired.”

Yet a legal representative for Lewis’ family has his doubts that the person KOB interviewed is the same man who shot Lewis.

Greg Payne, a former Albuquerque city councilor, state representative and city transit director, is one of three people who last week viewed a cellphone video of the shooting that police won’t release publicly. Payne is currently working for Ahmad Assed, an attorney who represents the Lewis family.

Payne said what he saw on the cell phone video contradicts what he saw on the news report.

“In terms of physiology, the person on KOB didn’t look like the person on the cellphone video at all,” Payne said.

But perhaps more notable are the discrepancies between what the man told KOB and evidence found the night of the shooting.

For one, police didn’t find a gun on Lewis that night. The man told KOB this is because Lewis’ friends ransacked his body and fled the scene.

From KOB:

“Right after they did drive-bys, everyone watched. He was lying in the parking lot. They literally looted his body,” the man recalled. “They took everything off of him. Keys. They took his gun.”

But the report by the Office of the Medical Investigator states that several items were left on Lewis’ body that night. They include a watch, a key and $61 worth of cash.

“The only thing being looted here is the truth,” Payne said.

The man also told KOB that he fired his gun until his ammo ran out, threw his gun in the park and fled. He told the TV station that he returned to the park and talked to police one hour later.

Police didn’t recover any guns from the scene that night.

“If he threw it in the park, why didn’t he show APD where it was?” Payne asked.

Another question is how many times the man fired his gun. In the TV report, the man said he shot until he ran out of ammunition.

Lewis’ OMI report shows he was shot from a distance twice—once in the back and once in the arm. If the man shot until he ran out of ammo, Payne wonders how many times he fired.

Photo Credit: Justice For Jaquise Lewis

Photo Credit: Justice For Jaquise Lewis

“Who else did he shoot? How many rounds is this person responsible for firing?” Payne asked.

All the discrepancies, according to Payne, mean the man’s story doesn’t add up.

Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Tanner Tixier wouldn’t answer questions about whether what the man told KOB is consistent with what Lewis’ shooter told APD, saying that the shooting is still an ongoing investigation.

Police have, however, concluded that Lewis fired at people and a man returned fire and killed Lewis in self-defense. Payne and the Lewis family hotly dispute this claim.

Whether the person who shot Lewis was the same person interviewed by KOB remains up in the air. The TV report doesn’t state as fact that he is the same person and attributes all of the claims to him.

“We never confirmed for KOB that they were in fact speaking to the actual shooter,” Tixier said.

New Mexico Political Report reached out to KOB, which didn’t have a comment other than to say that the station stands by the story and has also been in contact with the family’s attorney.

Last week, the Lewis family called for the cellphone video of the shooting obtained by police to be released to the public, claiming its footage isn’t consistent with APD’s conclusion that Lewis was killed in self-defense.

Payne said several unknowns remain about the shooter—whether he, for instance, has a previous criminal record or psychological issues.

He said the family retained legal counsel only after it felt it wasn’t getting answers from Albuquerque police.

New Mexico Political Report will continue with more coverage on the Los Altos shooting this week.

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  • Joey Peters

    Joey Peters has been a journalist for nearly a decade. Most recently, his reporting in New Mexico on closed government policies earned several accolades. Peters has also worked as a reporter in Washington DC and the Twin Cities. Contact him by phone at (505) 226-3197.