December 17, 2015

APD facing another open records lawsuit over video

The City of Albuquerque is facing another open records lawsuit over lapel-cam footage of a January police shooting.

gavel on stack of documentsThe American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) announced the lawsuit on behalf of, a website with an often adversarial relationship with the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department.

The shooting took place on January 14 and left John O’Keefe dead. The department released lapel cam footage from one officer shortly after the shooting. Andrew Christopherson of then told them he was seeking all the lapel camera footage, not just the footage from one officer.

The city, according to the lawsuit, denied the open records request based on the law enforcement exception. ACLU-NM says that the cameras worn by police officers should not fall into any Inspection of Public Records Act exemption.

“To ensure public trust in law enforcement, citizens and journalists must have access to information about how police use force in the community,” ACLU-NM Legal Director Alexandra Freedman Smith said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “APD must rise to this basic standard of openness and transparency, follow the law, and provide this information to the people they serve.”

The lawsuit names the City of Albuquerque and APD Chief Gorden Eden.

NM Political Report reached out to a spokesman for APD, who referred questions to the city attorney’s office, which said it “has not had the opportunity to review the lawsuit” but would do so once they receive it.

“The Albuquerque Police Department is committed to continuing to provide as much information as possible to the public while protecting the integrity of law enforcement investigations,” City Attorney Jessica Hernandez said in an email.

The ACLU-NM noted that APD has lost at least three lawsuits this year related to open records. Most recently, APD was ordered to release video of the Los Altos Skate Park shooting that left 17-year old Jaquise Lewis dead.