“I’m going to invoke my Fifth Amendment right.” Former Albuquerque police officer Jeremy Dear uttered that phrase — and others very much like it — more than 130 times on Tuesday as he was being deposed by an attorney for the family of a 19-year-old young woman Dear fatally shot in April 2014. Shannon Kennedy, whose law firm represents the family of shooting victim Mary Hawkes in a federal civil rights lawsuit, asked Dear a wide range of questions about his history at APD, the shooting, his behavior in its aftermath and other matters. This piece originally appeared at NM In Depth and is reprinted at NM Political Report with permission. He didn’t answer any of them. Kennedy’s firm has litigated dozens of police shooting cases over the course of decades.
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.
A practice of a police union giving payment reimbursements of up to $500 to Albuquerque police officers after shootings from the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) continues. The Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday on how one officer, Jeremy Dear, went to Hooters and a Chinese massage parlor two days after he fatally shot 19-year-old Mary Hawkes. Part of that report, unrelated to Dear’s actions, says “police union officials confirmed officers are still reimbursed up to $500 by the union to use for vacations and other ways to decompress after being involved in a shooting.”
It’s a practice that first surfaced publicly in 2012 when news broke that the union had given out payments to 23 officers involved in shootings. The revelation led to an outcry from critics over the appearance of awarding cops for shooting people in a department where a culture of “excessive use of force” eventually landed a court-ordered consent decree from the federal Department of Justice demanding a reform process. The city of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department are still working on the implementation of the reforms.
At the time, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and then-APD Chief Ray Schultz called for the practice to stop.
The Obama administration has asked a Brownsville-based judge to rethink an order that requires the federal government to turn over the private information of thousands of undocumented immigrants. The May 19 order from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen asserted that the federal government’s attorneys intentionally misled the court during proceedings over the Obama admiration’s controversial executive order on immigration, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. The court order included instructions for the federal government to provide Hanen a list of the immigrants who benefited prematurely from DAPA. But in a filing Tuesday, the federal government’s attorneys said providing that list would jeopardize the faith the American people have in one of the government’s largest institutions. “Requiring (Department of Homeland Security) to produce ‘all personal identifiers’ and ‘all available contact information’ for approximately 50,000 individuals by June 10, 2016, could undermine public trust in DHS’s commitment to protecting the confidential information contained in immigration files and will create a significant burden,” the filing states.
The Albuquerque City Council killed a proposal Monday night that would have withheld raises and retention bonuses for the police department’s top brass if the city fails to comply with it settlement agreement on police reform. The proposal by Councilor Diane Gibson failed on a 6-3 vote, with opponents saying it could drive off APD’s senior commanders and that it would have been hard to implement. “What will we do if we lose the people who are a year into this process? They are working hard and they are doing a good job,” Councilor Trudy Jones said in opposing the measure. Councilor Ken Sanchez echoed that opinion, saying, “I’d hate to hold the upper command staff hostage.”
City Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry told councilors that bit would be difficult to actually measure compliance under the proposal.
Top city officials said that the Department of Justice told them that APD could not look at other departments for model policies to reform the troubled department. The only problem with that serious allegation? It’s not true, at least not according to the U.S. Attorney. The Albuquerque Journal reported that U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez wrote in a letter to Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry and City Council President Dan Lewis that he was “perplexed” at the allegations, made by both APD’s Assistant Chief and the Albuquerque City Attorney. In fact, Martinez said he has encouraged city leadership and police to look at other departments over how they implemented reforms.
APD has to make reforms after a damning DOJ report that found a history and pattern of unconstitutional policing, which included fatal shootings by officers and other usages of excessive force.
The Albuquerque City Council is scheduled to vote in May on whether to hold the Albuquerque Police Department’s command staff financially accountable if the department fails to make progress in meeting the goals of its settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The Council’s Finance & Government Operations Committee voted 5-0 Monday to approve a resolution by Councilor Diane Gibson to withhold retention bonuses and pay raises from the command staff if APD fails to make progress in meeting the goals of the settlement agreement. The resolution also requires the department to name one person to spearhead the compliance effort and report on the progress every two weeks to councilors. Gibson recently has blasted APD, saying its leaders haven’t appeared interested in meeting the requirements of the settlement agreement, which says the department has to be in “substantial compliance” with 270 reform measures by November. “The intent [of the legislation] is to incentivize everybody on the command staff to do whatever it takes to achieve the work that has to be done to get into compliance,” Gibson told ABQ Free Press.
Two former fundraisers for Gov. Susana Martinez are demanding answers on why the federal Department of Justice dropped an investigation into Martinez’s top political operative. Earlier this month, both Andrea Goff and Cecilia Martinez wrote letters to U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez detailing their cooperation with the FBI investigation into Jay McCleskey and the retaliation they said they experienced as a result.
New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan first reported on and published the letters earlier today. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed receipt of the letters but would not comment further on them, citing a policy that the office doesn’t comment on investigations. When asked if that policy includes closed investigations, the spokeswoman said, “correct.”
NM Political Report also sent voicemails and emails to McCleskey and a spokesman for Gov. Martinez. We’ll update this post if we receive a response.
A bill to allow local governments to impose curfews on minors jumped through its second House committee, this time with some Democratic support. House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, and Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, joined with seven Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee to vote yes on the bill. Maestas had been previously public about his support. “I’m stuck on this one,” Maestas said at committee. “I lean towards local control.”
The bill allows cities and counties to set up their own curfews for minors under 16 years of age.
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.