The scope of an ongoing federal criminal investigation into events surrounding the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old woman by an Albuquerque police officer in 2014 stretches beyond what has been previously reported. That’s according to the lead investigator for the city’s independent police watchdog group. Department of Justice officials took the rare step last month of confirming an investigation into allegations made by a whistleblower that APD employees tampered with video from officers’ body cameras and other sources, including video from the early morning hours of April 21, 2014, when then-APD officer Jeremy Dear shot Mary Hawkes. But Ed Harness, executive director of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA), said in an interview that federal authorities are “looking into the entire case,” including whether the shooting itself was unlawful. In a series of presentations to Justice Department officials in early November, Harness and one of his investigators turned over information they had gathered during an administrative review of the shooting.
Two weeks before he takes office, incoming District Attorney Raul Torrez announced he had formed a team of prosecutors that will review a high-profile officer shooting case in Albuquerque. The goal is to determine whether to prosecute the case again. Torrez will officially take office as the 2nd Judicial District attorney next month, but on Tuesday said he already convened a group of seven district attorneys from around the state to review the controversial case involving Keith Sandy and Dominque Perez. Sandy and Perez were Albuquerque police officers who were charged with the death of homeless camper James Boyd. The first trial ended in a hung jury.
Attorney General Hector Balderas, who also chairs the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board, appointed a group to look into the policies and procedures behind investigations into shootings by police officers and use of force incidents in the state. The announcement of the review by a new subcommittee of the board came hours before a mistrial in South Carolina, where police officer shot Michael Slager shot Walter Scott, a black man, in the back as Scott ran away. Scott died. The April 4, 2015 incident was caught on video and quickly made news around the country after it happened. “Officer-involved shootings can have devastating consequences for both the civilian and law enforcement communities,” Balderas said in a statement.
Albuquerque Police Department officials have altered and, in some cases, deleted videos that showed several controversial incidents, including at least two police shootings, the department’s former records supervisor has alleged in a sworn affidavit. Three officers’ body camera videos that captured events surrounding the fatal shooting of 19-year-old suspected car thief Mary Hawkes in April 2014 were either altered or partially deleted, according to former APD employee Reynaldo Chavez’s nine-page affidavit. Also alleged is that surveillance camera video from a salon showing APD officers shooting Jeremy Robertson, a law enforcement informant and suspected probation violator, in June 2014 bore “the tell-tale signs that it has been altered and images that had been captured are now deleted. One of the deleted images captured the officers shooting Jeremy Robertson.”
This piece originally appeared at NM In Depth and is reprinted at NM Political Report with permission. Chavez also said that ‘SD cards’ from cameras were easy to make disappear, and that he witnessed Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman say ‘we can make this disappear’ when discussing a particular police camera with an SD card in it, according the affidavit.
Albuquerque police announced Monday the arrest of a man allegedly involved in property damage last week during the protest of a hung jury in the trial of two APD officers charged with murder. Police say Benjamin Thomas Imbus faces a felony charge of criminal damage to private property. When a truck tried to drive through protesters who were blocking traffic on Lomas Boulevard near to state courthouse, one protester slammed his sign against the truck. The protester, police say, is Imbus. The damage to the truck was under $1,800, according to police.
“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.
In March of 2014, Albuquerque Police were dispatched to the foothills area of Albuquerque in response to a homeless man who was camping illegally. What transpired in a matter of hours would leave the camper dead and the prompt still-ongoing issues on a local level with national attention. Almost a year after the shooting, then-Officer Dominique Perez and retired Detective Keith Sandy were charged with the murder of camper James Boyd. We are counting down the top ten stories through the end of the year with expanded recaps or personal recollections from the three members of the team. Tune in each morning to see what the next story is.
Judge Neil Candelaria ruled Tuesday that there is probable cause to go forward in the trial of two Albuquerque Police Department officers, one who has since retired, who shot and killed a homeless man. Officer Dominique Perez and former Detective Keith Sandy will face trial on charges of second-degree murder and lesser charges. The two will be the first Albuquerque Police Department officers to be charged for an on-the-job shooting. Note: This is a breaking news story and will be updated throughout the day. The naming of a trial date and arraignment will take place at a later date.
The city of Albuquerque is in for a hefty bill to pay for the wrongful death of a homeless man police killed in 2014. Last Friday, attorneys for the family of James Boyd announced that the city agreed to a settlement payment of $5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. In March 2014, police surrounded and shot Boyd, an unarmed homeless man who had been camping illegally in the Sandia foothills. A video of the shooting went viral, leading to several protests in Albuquerque and plenty of national media coverage. Still, Albuquerque Police Department Chief Gorden Eden’s initially responded that the shooting was justified.
A special prosecutor charged two Albuquerque Police Department officers who shot and killed a homeless man with second degree murder. The special prosecutor, Randi McGinn, filed the charges on Monday. Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez will also face voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault charges in the death of James Boyd. The charges allege that Sandy and Perez “did kill James Boyd without lawful justification or excuse and without acting upon sufficient provocation while knowing that his acts created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to James Boyd.” The shooting happened last year after Boyd was illegally camping in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.