July 10, 2015

Mother of Jaquise Lewis sues APD

Photo Credit: Justice For Jaquise Lewis

The mother of a teenager who died after a March shooting at Los Altos Skate Park is suing the Albuquerque Police Department for public records violations.

Photo Credit: Justice For Jaquise Lewis

Photo Credit: Justice For Jaquise Lewis

In the lawsuit, Munah Green alleges that APD is improperly withholding public records related to the shooting that also saw six people wounded, including a reported paralyzation.

Green’s son, 17-year-old Jaquise Lewis, died after being shot in the back twice from a distance. To date, APD hasn’t named or charged Lewis’ shooter with a crime, concluding that he killed Lewis in self-defense.

In April, Green and her attorney requested all police reports, video recordings, audio recordings and other information related to the shooting. Since then, APD allowed them to view a cell phone video retrieved from the incident but hasn’t handed over any documents, according to the lawsuit.

The state Inspection of Public Records Act states that public agencies must respond to records requests within 15 days, unless deemed “broad and burdensome.” Yet the law says that if an agency extends the deadline, it “shall explain in writing when the records will be available for inspection or when the public body will respond to the request.”

APD, according to the lawsuit, hasn’t done so.

Green is seeking disclosure of all documents related to the shooting and damages of up to $100 for each day APD hasn’t complied with her records request.

From the lawsuit:

[APD] has a pattern and practice of denying inspection of public records, charging more for copies than is permitted by law, delaying inspection and selectively releasing self-serving portions of public records to the media while denying the same documents to citizens who request them.

The “self-serving portions of public records” the lawsuit refers to include “highly selective still photographs and screen shots from a cell phone video in order to convince members of the public that [Lewis] was holding a gun and pointing it at a group of people.”

Police say this photo of Lewis in the yellow jersey shows him with a gun. His family says it's a glove.

Police say this photo of Lewis in the yellow jersey shows him with a gun. His family says it’s a glove.

That photograph, argued Green and others, instead shows Lewis simply wearing a white glove.

Green finally viewed the cell phone video in late June and said that it doesn’t show Lewis using a gun, but instead running from his shooter before dying.

New Mexico Political Report reached out to APD for comment, which referred the matter to the city’s legal department. Acting City Attorney Jenica Jacobi told New Mexico Political Report in a statement that the city has no comment on the lawsuit because it’s pending litigation.

In the meantime, read Green’s lawsuit in full below:

IPRA Complaint with Exhibits.pdf by New Mexico Political Report

Updated with quote from Albuquerque City Attorney’s office.