Affidavit: ABQ police have illegally deleted, altered videos of shootings

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.

Lawsuit over Guv’s emails ends

More than two years after being filed in federal court, a lawsuit over leaked emails from Gov. Susana Martinez’s 2010 campaign account was dismissed with prejudice Monday. Attorneys on both sides filed the motion to dismiss, which likely puts the issue to rest. “It’s dismissed with prejudice,” Bruce Wetherbee, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, told NM Political Report. “End of story.”

Dismissed with prejudice means that the lawsuit cannot be re-filed in court. Wetherbee worked with Independent Source PAC when the liberal political action committee publicly released some leaked emails from Martinez administration staffers and allies in 2012.

Prosecutors drop charges against ex-APD union head

The state is dropping the charges against the former head of the union that represents Albuquerque Police Department officers but is reserving the right to re-file charges. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office arrested Stephanie Lopez in December on child abuse and witness intimidation charges. After the charges, Lopez took leave then later resigned from her position as Albuquerque Police Union President. Prosecutors alleged that Lopez hit her teenage child multiple times over an overdue utility bill. Lopez retained Sam Bregman as her attorney.

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Ex-political operative in child porn case pushes to drop evidence

A former Democratic political operative filed a request earlier this month asking a federal judge to dismiss evidence related to child pornography charges. An attorney for Jason Loera filed a motion claiming federal agents violated his fourth amendment by not following search warrant procedures. The motion comes just as the the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Loera with additional child pornography charges, bringing the total to six. Jerry Walz, Loera’s attorney, filed a motion asking the court to reconsider a previous denial to suppress evidence because agents did not stop an initial search after discovering child pornography electronically stored. Initially, agents were searching Loera’s records for any evidence of stolen emails or computer fraud as part of the federal case into stolen campaign emails from the 2010 Susana Martinez gubernatorial campaign.

Judge: Journo’s records out of bounds in Gov. Martinez email case

A witness in a federal civil trial regarding leaked emails from Gov. Susana Martinez will not have to hand over emails she exchanged with a local news reporter. United States Magistrate Judge Stephan M. Vidmar ruled Monday that emails between Santa Fe New Mexican reporter Justin Horwath and former Martinez aide Anissa Ford will not be part of the legal discovery process in a civil case*. Individuals with connections to Martinez accused four individuals of illegally intercepting and disseminating emails from personal email accounts of Martinez staffers. At the hearing, Pat Rogers, a Republican lobbyist and one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, asked the court to order email communications between Horwath and Ford be made available to him and his legal team. Rogers is a Republican National Committeeman in the state and has close ties to the governor.

Emails won’t be shielded, but defendants must disclose info in leaked email lawsuit

A federal magistrate judge Monday rejected a motion to protect hundreds of leaked emails from top staffers in the governor’s office from a high profile case among other measures. Plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit involving leaked emails from the 2010 campaign account of Gov. Susana Martinez will now also be able to conduct discovery on the defendants. U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephan Vidmar limited the discovery to just a handful of issues: what emails were intercepted, who intercepted the emails, who publicly disclosed the intercepted emails and why they publicly disclosed them. The judge made rulings against motions by both sides. The developments mark the latest fallout in one of the longest ongoing scandals in Martinez’s governorship.

APD officer, former detective will face trial over killing of homeless man

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.

Haaland elected new state Democratic Party Chair

State Democrats elected Deborah Haaland as their new state party chairwoman on Saturday, making her the first American Indian to serve the post. Haaland, a candidate for lieutenant governor with Gary King’s failed gubernatorial run last fall, was elected on a 214-168 vote during the state Democratic convention in Albuquerque. She defeated Richard Ellenberg, who served as chairman of the Santa Fe County Democratic Party until recently. Haaland, 54, begins her new job right away. She’ll serve a two-year term.

Answers filed in leaked email lawsuit

Three defendants in a federal lawsuit are fighting back in the latest development of an ongoing scandal involving leaked emails from the campaign account of Gov. Susana Martinez. In answers filed earlier this month, state Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bregman and private investigator Michael Corwin, who ran the Martinez-critical Independent Source PAC, deny that they illegally “hijacked” emails from the governor’s campaign account. Jamie Estrada, who briefly served as Martinez’ campaign manager in 2009 and is now serving time in federal prison after admitting to intercepting campaign emails in a plea deal last year, also filed an answer denying that he caused damages to the plaintiffs. The controversy dates back to the summer of 2012, when emails from the governor’s campaign account began leaking to the media. Scores of leaked emails showed top lobbyists communicating with governor’s office staffers about a controversial Albuquerque racino deal before the decision, among other things.

The recent history of embattled DA Brandenburg

New Mexico’s district attorneys walk a difficult tightrope, weighing their roles in criminal courts, where they represent the state and work closely with law enforcement to prosecute crimes, against their political roles in the court of public opinion. For Second Judicial District Attorney Kari Brandenburg, that precarious balance has reached a tipping point. Her approach to officer-involved shootings has shifted over the years, but never so drastically as last week, when she opted to level murder charges against Albuquerque Police Department SWAT member Dominique Perez and now-retired detective Keith Sandy for the March 2014 shooting death of James Boyd. Here’s a look at Brandenburg’s long tenure and some of the events, controversies and scandals that have surrounded her handling of officer-involved shootings. If the timeline does not load, click here for another version.