Albuquerque mourns for Orlando victims

Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community gathered in a park in a Southeast area of Albuquerque Sunday evening in solidarity with the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. Hundreds of people gathered while local politicians and advocates spoke out against violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community. University of New Mexico LGBTQ Resource Center Director Alma Rosa Silva-Bañuelos opened the somber and tearful event by addressing the Orlando shooting. Related: Photos: Albuquerque gathers for vigil for victims of Orlando

“We lost our family this morning and that’s why we’re gathering here today,”  Rosa Silva-Bañuelos said. “If you’re sad it’s okay because it shouldn’t be happening in 2016.”

Rosa Silva-Bañuelos repeated a common sentiment that these bars and clubs are often a place of comfort for a community that may not have another place to go.

Controversial ‘reverse stings’ on drug users will continue despite outcry

Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden has offered a full-throated defense of his department’s increasingly controversial “reversal narcotic operations,” including one on May 9 in which undercover officers posed as drug dealers along East Central Avenue, sold and traded small amounts of crack cocaine and methamphetamine to homeless people, then arrested them on felony possession charges. The operations improve “quality of life” for area businesses and residents, decrease property crimes, gain intelligence for narcotics detectives to use in future cases and provide those arrested access to addiction and mental health services they otherwise shun, Eden wrote in a letter dated Wednesday to City Councilor Pat Davis*. This piece originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and is used with permission. Davis, whose council district includes the area where APD detectives made the arrests on May 9, asked Eden in a May 20 letter to suspend the “low-level” operations, calling them “misguided” and saying they “target the symptom of a larger problem without bringing any long-term benefit to the community.”

The chief said in his letter that the operations would continue, though the department’s “focus has never been to target the homeless population.”

In the May 9 operation, APD detectives accepted $3, colic medication, clothing, used electronics and other paltry sums for drugs. At least six of the eight arrested were homeless people of color.

More drama, nuttiness from APD training academy head

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.

Police arrest three for violence at Trump protest

Since announcing reward money for information last week, tips led police to arrest three people in connection with last week’s protests after the Donald Trump rally. They include two adults and one minor, two of whom have been charged with felonies and one charged with misdemeanors. One outstanding warrant remains for a unnamed 17-year-old who police say was filmed running on top of and damaging two state police cars. “We want to make sure that people in the city of Albuquerque feel free to come voice their opinions,” Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said in a Thursday morning press conference. The city is now offering more than $20,000 for information that lead to arrests, Berry said.

Were APD stings aimed at drug users worth it?

To some, it was a waste of scarce and precious police resources. In what could be a metaphor for the plight of Albuquerque, the May 9 reverse sting drug operation by Albuquerque police officers resulted in the arrest of eight low-level drug users and homeless people, $23.10 in cash, a computer tablet, cell phone, police radio, jacket and colic medicine. For that, police deployed around 15 to 20 officers and support staff for the operation near Central and Pennsylvania Northeast. And considering all the other support services connected with the operation, the reverse sting probably cost taxpayers between $5,000 and $10,000, experts said. This piece originally appeared in the ABQ Free Press.

APD seeks tips on identities of 30 ‘thugs’

Out of the about 1,000 protesters who showed up to demonstrate against Donald Trump, fewer than 30 were those who perpetrated violence. That was what Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Albuquerque Police Department Chief Gorden Eden told media in a press conference on Thursday afternoon, two days after a once-peaceful protest against the presumptive Republican nominee turned violent. Note: This story may be updated. Eden said that protesters carried rocks and other projectiles in backpacks and threw them at officers. He said every officer who was on the front line was hit with at least one rock.

Death at a Skate Park: Putting together the pieces of a deadly night

Three days after a mass shooting at an Albuquerque skate park that took the life of one, paralyzed another and injured five more, Albuquerque Police Department Detective Tara Juarez sat in a room interviewing the man who, according to transcripts of police interviews, shot and killed 17-year-old Jaquise Lewis. An arrest warrant written for Gregory Buchanan sat in another room, according to statements made by another officer in a transcript from the interview. The interview marked Gregory Buchanan’s third with Juarez since the March 22, 2015 shooting. Until now, Buchanan insisted in police interviews that the gun he used on Lewis wasn’t his. Instead, he told Juarez that he picked it up from a friend who was shot in the chaos of the night. Buchanan said he fired the gun “at the assailants who were shooting at us,” killing Lewis in self defense.

ABQ, BernCo officials outline grievances over court-ordered deadlines

The Second Judicial District Attorney and Albuquerque Police Department chief told members of the New Mexico Supreme Court Tuesday that a court order on time limits for trials needed to be changed. The comments came during a meeting on the case management order (CMO) from the Supreme Court to those in Bernalillo County. Among those giving feedback on the CMO were Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg, Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden, Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales and Chief Public Defender Jorge Alvarado. The high court previously mandated the CMO amid concern that Bernalillo County wasn’t prosecuting felony cases fast enough as jails overcrowded. Among its changes are a mandate that arraignment comes 10 days after either an indictment, arrest or filing of criminal information of a case—whatever comes last.

DA to review fatal Los Altos Skate Park shooting case

A district attorney wants to review the police department’s investigation of the Los Altos Skate Park shooting in March that left 17-year-old Jaquise Lewis dead. This is all according to recent email exchanges between DA Kari Brandenburg and Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden obtained by New Mexico Political Report. In an email titled “Jaquise Lewis homicide” sent to Eden last week, Brandenburg wrote that she was “getting calls and inquiries regarding the above case.” Police held a press conference more than a month after the shooting where they said Lewis was killed as a result of self defense. Police have not arrested or named the man who killed Lewis.

On 9/11, NM officials remember and thank first responders

First responders gathered with New Mexico and Albuquerque leaders in Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza on Friday to remember the lives that were lost 14 years ago on September 11, 2001. Gov. Susana Martinez spoke to the crowd of community members and first responders by thanking them for their service. “Thank you for what you do every single day,” Martinez said. She went on to remember her personal experience of the attacks on September 11, 2001. She said the news of planes crashing into the World Trade Center was devastating.