August 4, 2015

Police interview witness of Los Altos shooting

Photo Credit: Justice For Jaquise Lewis

A woman who was with Jaquise Lewis on the night he was shot and killed said police recently interviewed her about the incident.

Photo Credit: Justice For Jaquise Lewis

Photo Credit: Justice For Jaquise Lewis

Desiree Duran, an eyewitnesses to the Los Altos Skate Park shooting in March that also wounded six others, told New Mexico Political Report that Albuquerque Police Department officer Terra Juarez interviewed her on July 6.

Duran’s interview with police came shortly after New Mexico Political Report published a story that quoted from both her and Brianna Keyes, another witness to the incident. Both were with Lewis’ group that night.

Previously, APD spokesman Tanner Tixier told New Mexico Political Report that nobody from Lewis’ group that night was cooperating with their investigation into the shootings. But both Duran and Keyes said cops interviewed them on the night of the shooting. Keyes said she even tried to call a detective days after the incident to talk more but never heard back.

Duran said her more recent interview came after Juarez reached out to her. But despite the apparent change of course, Duran said she still feels like police aren’t taking her side of the story seriously.

“It was questions that I’ve already been asked,” she said. “[Juarez] said she’d been talking to both sides of the group, when nobody’s really been contacted. She could have contacted me the next night.”

Lewis’ mother, Munah Green, said she was present for the interview. Green said it lasted about 20 to 30 minutes.

Part of what came up was how police originally found Lewis’ group throwing a barbecue that day at Manzano Mesa Park, where some were drinking. Police told the group to go to Los Altos Park, where they are allowed to drink during day hours if they are of age (several in Lewis’ group were underage).

“The detective said, ‘We didn’t know Jaquise was in that group,’” Green said.

Tixier previously confirmed that police did know this fact.

The official APD account of the March 22 incident says it began when someone from Lewis’ group borrowed a skateboard from another group. Violence ensued and both groups got into a fight. Keyes said tension sparked into violence when someone from the other group called Lewis a “nigger.”

Police later concluded that Lewis was one of four people who fired guns that night. They say Lewis was killed in self-defense, and haven’t released the name or pressed charges on the person who killed him.

But both Duran and Keyes deny that story and contend that Lewis never had a gun. Police won’t publicly release an obtained cellphone video of the shooting, contending that doing so would jeopardize their investigation. Family members of Lewis who saw the video say that it shows Lewis getting shot at as he’s running away.

Lewis’ autopsy says he was shot from a distance twice—once on the left mid-back just and once “on the left posterior upper arm just above the elbow,” or the back of his arm.

Green said Chavez hasn’t returned her calls throughout the entire process. She’s suing the city for withholding public records regarding the incident. Green added she’d drop her suit once APD releases the cellphone video to the public, which she maintained shows her son’s innocence.

“APD has told several lies since day one,” she said.

Tixier didn’t comment directly on the matter for this story, noting that Juarez was out of the office and wouldn’t until be back later this week.