Feds confirm investigation of body cam allegations against APD

Federal officials on Thursday said they are conducting a criminal investigation of allegations that Albuquerque Police Department employees altered and deleted body camera video. The Department of Justice has received “several requests” seeking a criminal probe, Elizabeth Martinez, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque, said in an emailed response to questions from New Mexico In Depth. “The Justice Department will decline to comment further due to its ongoing investigation into this matter,” Martinez wrote in a rare public confirmation of a federal criminal investigation. APD referred a reporter to Mayor Richard Berry’s spokeswoman for comment. She did not immediately respond.

Big crowds of Trump supporters, protesters expected

The Albuquerque Police Department told media they are preparing for a big crowd Tuesday night when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump brings his campaign to town. A police spokesman also said that they are not anticipating any problems from protesters who are already planning to gather at the same time Tuesday night. A group organizing the protest also is planning for a peaceful protest and is saying they’re seeing a large amount of online interest. Trump will be at the Albuquerque Convention Center, just days after Democratic U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders drew 7,000 supporters for a rally. So many media outlets were asking about the security for the rally that the Albuquerque Police Department called a press conference to address the issues.

APD to sell crack, meth in stings to target users

The Albuquerque Police Department is in the midst of a 10-month reverse drug sting operation where cops will be selling heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and methamphetamines to people and then arresting them on drug charges. The department is engaged in a “Reversal Operation” whereby narcotics officers will be taking up to two pounds of drugs out of APD’s evidence room and selling it to people on the streets. In addition, APD has asked for, and received, permission from a judge to actually manufacture crack cocaine for the operation. This piece originally appeared on the ABQ Free Press website. In so-called “normal” sting operations, police attempt to buy drugs from drug dealers.

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.

APD releases video of Los Altos Skate Park shooting

Following a court ruling ordering for immediate public disclosure, the Albuquerque Police Department released a cell video from a shooting in March. The shooting, which occurred during the night of March 22, killed 17-year-old Jaquise Lewis and wounded six others. One of the wounded was paralyzed from the waist down. Munah Green, Lewis’ mother, had been seeking the video and other records related to the shooting since April. The following month, APD released still images from the video in a press conference where they also said Lewis was killed in self defense.

ABQ union president arrested on child abuse charges

New broke on Thursday evening that the head of the union that represents the Albuquerque Police Department was arrested on charges of child abuse. Media began reporting Thursday evening around 8:30 p.m. that Stephanie Lopez was charged with child abuse. She is the president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association. Lopez was arrested by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. Shortly before 9:00 p.m., a spokesman for the APD confirmed the arrest but did not offer much more information.

Attorneys make final arguments in APD public records trial

The City of Albuquerque is using the state Inspection of Public Records Act to only its own end, according to closing arguments in the trial of a lawsuit alleging the city violated the law. Ahmad Assed, the attorney for Munah Green, contends in written arguments submitted this week that under the city’s interpretation, “IPRA becomes meaningless and subject to the pleasure and whim of governmental power.”

“Instead of IPRA being a public check and balance, or a statutory tool by which the public can extract the greatest possible information about governmental actions, IPRA can be thwarted, eviscerated and otherwise rendered meaningless by two words: ‘on-going investigation,’” Assed writes. Green is the mother of Jaquise Lewis, the 17-year-old who died from gunshots in the March shooting at Los Altos Skate Park. The shooting left six others wounded, including one who was paralyzed. Albuquerque police have said that Lewis had a gun, fired at people that night and was killed in self defense.

Family of slain teen puts city on notice for lawsuit

The mother of a slain 17-year-old is putting the city of Albuquerque on notice for a potential lawsuit. Last week, Munah Green filed a tort claims notice accusing the city and the Albuquerque Police Department of taking actions that led to the death of Jaquise Lewis, who was killed following a March 22 shooting at Los Altos Skate Park that left six others wounded. Green’s notice alleges that the city is responsible for a number of wrongdoings, including wrongful death, civil rights violations and due process violations. The notice also compels both the city and the police department to preserve all evidence related to the shooting. City spokeswoman Rhiannon Schroeder would not comment on the tort claims notice, stating that it’s pending litigation.

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.

Police interview witness of Los Altos shooting

A woman who was with Jaquise Lewis on the night he was shot and killed said police recently interviewed her about the incident. Desiree Duran, an eyewitnesses to the Los Altos Skate Park shooting in March that also wounded six others, told New Mexico Political Report that Albuquerque Police Department officer Terra Juarez interviewed her on July 6. Duran’s interview with police came shortly after New Mexico Political Report published a story that quoted from both her and Brianna Keyes, another witness to the incident. Both were with Lewis’ group that night. Previously, APD spokesman Tanner Tixier told New Mexico Political Report that nobody from Lewis’ group that night was cooperating with their investigation into the shootings.