Black community leaders and citizens want to know who invited out-of-town federal agents and informants into Albuquerque and how the decision was made to focus an undercover sting operation on an impoverished, largely minority section of the city, netting a highly disproportionate number of black defendants. They plan to put those and other questions into a letter to the federal bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “We want to know exactly what happened and why,” said Patrick Barrett, a member of the two organizations drafting the letter — the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Sankofa Men’s Leadership Exchange, a grassroots organization of black men. This story originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and is reprinted with permission. Barrett and others interviewed for this story were reacting to a NMID investigation of the sting published last month.
After a year of “stonewalling” by federal law enforcement officials, U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is calling for congressional hearings to get to the bottom of why a man who allegedly shot an Albuquerque police officer to death in 2015 was still on the streets at the time. The fourth-year congresswoman, an Albuquerque-based Democrat who is running for governor of New Mexico, also vowed to sponsor a bill that would require the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and other agencies to make regular reports to Congress on their policies for undercover operations and those operations’ outcomes once they’re closed. This piece originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and appears on NM Political Report with permission. Lujan Grisham laid out her plans in an interview with New Mexico In Depth after a town hall meeting in Albuquerque on Feb. 25.
Albuquerque police Detective Herman Martinez had an anonymous tip: a man and woman had warrants out for their arrests, they had been selling large amounts of heroin in the city, and the man had a gun. So shortly after noon on June 28, Martinez and seven other plainclothes officers from the APD Narcotics and Vice units followed Camille Gabaldon, 38, and 37-year-old Greg Chaparro, in unmarked police cars as the pair drove through the city in a maroon sedan. This story first appeared in New Mexico In Depth. It is reprinted with permission. Within an hour, the officers were in another fraught drug investigation — the third such incident involving the Narcotics Unit and street-level users during the last several weeks. The June 28 encounter provides another lens through which to view a New Mexico version of the tension between law enforcement and marginalized communities that is roiling the nation.
The husband of the director of the Albuquerque Police Department’s training academy filed a complaint with the Civilian Police Oversight Agency against an APD officer one day after that officer filed an internal affairs complaint against his wife, ABQ Free Press has learned. The complaint against the officer, Sgt. Adam Anaya, was filed on May 10 by Robert Tyler, husband of Jessica Tyler, APD’s training director. Anaya’s lawyer said it was in retaliation for his client having filed the IA complaint against Jessica Tyler. This piece originally appeared on the ABQ Free Press website.
Albuquerque police announced four arrests at the protests of the Donald Trump rally last night and said more are likely coming. The once-peaceful protests turned violent as the day turned to night and the family atmosphere turned more threatening. An Albuquerque Police Department spokeswoman said “Six officers suffered significant injuries after being pummeled with fist-sized rocks.” All six were treated on the scene, and suffered injuries “to their faces, noses, arms and legs.” No officers were transported to the hospital for these injuries. One Sergeant was treated for smoke inhalation, which police blame on fires lit by the protesters. APD announced one Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy was injured, though it isn’t clear to what extent.
The New Mexico State Police has launched an investigation into alleged time sheet fraud at one of the Albuquerque Police Department’s area commands. The State Police confirmed the investigation Thursday to ABQ Free Press, but said it couldn’t comment on the details. Sources told ABQ Free Press that the investigation and possible fraud centers around members of APD’s command structure. “State Police recently received information about alleged fraudulent activity within the department [APD] and the NMSP Investigations Bureau is investigating these allegations,” State Police Sgt. Elizabeth Armijo said in an email to the newspaper.
A team of legal representatives for the mother of a slain Albuquerque teen offered their interpretation of recently released cell phone video of the deadly shooting in March. The video captures parts of the Los Altos Skate Park shooting that killed 17-year-old Jaquise Lewis and wounded six others. Albuquerque police released the previously withheld video last week after losing a lawsuit in which a judge found the city in violation of the state’s public records law. Munah Green, the mother of Lewis, filed the lawsuit in July after requesting documents related to the shooting that police had withheld since April. Police have stated that Lewis fired a gun that night and was killed in self defense.
Two reports released on Thursday have different views of the Albuquerque Police Department’s compliance with a consent decree between the department and the U.S. Department of Justice. A status report by James Ginger, the federal monitor appointed to oversee APD’s reforms outlined in the consent decree, warns that the police department is not developing a new use of force policy fast enough. “The monitoring team have twice worked with the APD to provide guidance regarding the pending APD use of force policy,” his report states. “As of yet, no use of force police has been developed that can be approved by the monitor.”
The report from APD, however, painted a much rosier picture in its own status report, maintaining that “methodical planning, innovation and hard work” have led to “considerable gains.”
The consent decree is the result of a federal investigation that concluded in April 2014 that the police department’s practices of use of force repeatedly violated the U.S. Constitution. A settlement agreement between the DOJ and APD last fall outlined the reforms the police agency must follow through the consent decree.
The Albuquerque Police Department announced Wednesday afternoon that three members of the department’s Inspection of Public Records Act unit were put on administrative leave. The release says that they were placed on leave “pending an Internal Investigation” regarding “allegations of unprofessional conduct, workplace safety and inadequate supervision which have impacted the efficiency and effectiveness of the IPRA Unit.” Javier Urban was named as the acting Records Custodian for APD. Reynaldo Chavez was previously listed as the records custodian for APD on the department’s public media inquiries page on the City of Albuquerque website. The release came from APD spokeswoman Celina Espinoza and had very little information. The department says that there will be no further information released on the investigation because it is a personnel matter.