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officer-involved shootings

V.20 No.33 | 8/18/2011
Julia Minamata

News Feature

Can APD Beat Its Rap?

Shootings, lack of oversight have plagued police for years

Officer-involved shootings and a lack of oversight have plagued police for years. Reporter Carolyn Carlson looks back at a report from the ’90s spurred by civil rights abuses, as well as all the headlights shining on Albuquerque police today.
V.20 No.29 | 7/21/2011


Father escorted out of Police Oversight Commission meeting

Research firm MGT of America is evaluating the effectiveness of the Police Oversight Commission and the Independent Review Office in addressing citizen complaints. The city hired the firm in May on a $40,000 contract.

An MGT analyst observed the Thursday, July 14 commission meeting, during which local attorney Steve Torres was escorted away by two Albuquerque Police Department officers. Torres' 27-year-old son Christopher was killed by APD in April.

As the commission discussed the August officer-involved shooting death of Enrique Carrasco, Torres attempted to ask a question. After several verbal attempts by Chairman Bambi Folk to stop Torres from talking out of turn, two uniformed APD officers moved into place and physically escorted Torres out.

(To view the full meeting, go to the city’s GOV TV site. Scroll down to the section titled Police Oversight Commission.)

Earlier in the meeting, Torres accused the commission of not fulfilling its function and rubber-stamping most of APD’s behavior. Other public comments also claimed the commission merely justifies the force's actions. “How can you sleep at night?” Mike Gomez asked. He is the father of 22-year old Alan Gomez, who was killed by police in May.

In an interview with the Alibi, Internal Review Officer William Deaton said the IRO and the Police Oversight Commission have a broad reach but do not have power to impose penalties—only to make recommendations. Deaton’s findings can be ignored or discarded by the Police Oversight Commission or by the city’s chief administrative officer.

For instance, it was Deaton’s opinion that the shooting of Kenneth Ellis III, a 25-year old Iraq War veteran, was not a reasonable use of force and the shooting should not have happened. The Police Oversight Commission disagreed, rejected his opinion and called the shooting justified.

Deaton said MGT analysts will be around in the coming weeks, gathering more information and data for their study.

V.20 No.24 | 6/16/2011


Families to protest police killings at 4 p.m.

Friends and family members of people who’ve been shot by the Albuquerque Police Department will demonstrate today on Civic Plaza from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. They will demand that Mayor Richard Berry and Police Chief Ray Schultz take action to stop the killings, according to a news release.

At a Monday, June 6 City Council meeting, scores of folks pleaded with councilors to learn from the deaths and change APD’s policies.

Chief Schultz issued an order in late May that requires officers to carry Tasers. Answer N.M., an activist group, says the order is an insult. “Tasers, like police guns, are violent weapons of lethal force. Chief Schultz has not addressed the underlying issues of APD's practice of excessive force, racism and a reign of terror ... .”

2011 has seen four officer-caused deaths. Another 14 people were shot in 2010, and nine died.

V.20 No.20 | 5/19/2011


Protest about APD shootings

In the last 12 months, 14 people have been shot by APD officers. In the latest on May 10, suspect Alan Gomez was wielding a plastic kitchen spoon—not a gun, as officers thought. Officer Sean Wallace shot and killed Gomez, and it was Wallace’s third shooting. One other was fatal.

Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, an activist group, has called for an emergency protest outside APD headquarters at 400 Roma today from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. “Tell APD to stop terrorizing our communities,” Answer N.M. writes in its news release.

Trish Hoffman, spokesperson for APD, says the department respects demonstrators’ right to protest.

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