Thursday, July 28, 2005

Officer Accused Of Rape Is Fired

Around the Metro Area , Journal Staff Reports

An Albuquerque police officer accused of raping a 14-year-old girl was formally terminated Wednesday.
Shortly before his firing, officer Timothy Chavez and his attorney met with Police Chief Ray Schultz Wednesday to plead their case, which is required by APD policy.
After the meeting, Schultz reviewed the case against Chavez and then fired the undercover vice officer.
According to court records, Chavez was arrested May 24 on charges of kidnapping and sexual penetration stemming from allegations that he met the teenager on a telephone dating service and raped her inside her home.
Chavez was with the department for about 13 years.

Friday, July 22, 2005

APD Officer Named in Other Excessive Force Lawsuits

Associated Press

One of two Albuquerque police officers that a New York heart surgeon says roughed him up has been named in four federal lawsuits alleging excessive force.
Surgeon Vincent Moss, who is on a two-month sabbatical working at Gallup's Indian Medical Center, was arrested early Sunday on charges of disorderly conduct and refusing to obey an officer. He was released on $75 bond.
Moss contends two officers threw him to the ground, separating his shoulder, and falsely arrested him after he complained to a bar manager about not being served. He said he suspects he was badly treated because he's black.
The bar's manager said Moss was aggressive and officers acted appropriately.
Police Chief Ray Schultz has asked the city's independent review office to investigate.
One officer listed on the criminal complaint against Moss is Allen Hancock — one of two officers named in a 1998 federal lawsuit that alleged Hancock crushed a man's hand with his foot during a traffic stop, The Albuquerque Tribune reported Friday.
That man, who is black, settled for a "reasonable'' amount, said his attorney, Philip Davis.
The Tribune said Hancock was named in another 1998 federal lawsuit alleging he refused to let a Hispanic man tend his wife after her head was cut when she was knocked down by another officer. The lawsuit alleges Hancock made the man take four blood-alcohol tests that all were within the legal limit, so Hancock broke the device and charged the man with DWI.
The man was found not guilty, and the lawsuit was settled and dismissed in 1999. The Tribune said attorneys in the case could not confirm what the city paid.
Albuquerque police spokesman John Walsh said Hancock is a veteran SWAT officer and that SWAT officers often are the subjects of complaints given the high intensity of the situations where they're called.
Figures from the Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission said that in general, complaints against officers are rising.
Hancock is among numerous officers named in two pending federal lawsuits.
One, filed in March, accuses 15 Albuquerque officers of using excessive force during an anti-Iraq war protest in March 2003. It alleges they fired beanbag rounds, pepper spray and tear gas at the peaceful protesters.
Hancock is among 19 Albuquerque officers and four Rio Rancho police officers accused in a 2004 federal lawsuit of breaking into the home of an elderly women, her daughter and two teenage children to serve a search warrant.
The lawsuit alleges officers tossed in flash-bang grenades, pointed guns at the family, made abusive comments, handcuffed the elderly woman so tightly she was hospitalized and injured the other woman by stepping on her back.
Nothing was found at the home and no one was charged.

City Moves to Fire Vice Cop

By Jeff Proctor, Journal Staff Writer

Albuquerque officials will not wait for an indictment to begin the process of firing police officer Timothy Chavez, who is accused of raping a 14-year-old girl.

"He received termination papers today, and that's the first step of the process," Mayor Martin Chávez told the Journal editorial board Thursday. "We knew the day we got the DNA back that he wasn't going to be with the police department anymore."

A personnel hearing is scheduled for the middle of next week, where an up or down decision will be rendered on Officer Chavez's job, said John Walsh, an APD spokesman.

Officer Chavez, 33, was arrested May 24 on charges of kidnapping and criminal sexual penetration. He was placed on leave with pay.

At the time, Police Chief Ray Schultz said he would fire Chavez once the officer was indicted by a grand jury. Schultz said he expected an indictment within 10 days.

Chances for a speedy indictment ground to a halt, in part, because Officer Chavez is related to or has worked with several people on staff at the Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office.

To avoid an obvious conflict of interest, District Attorney Kari Brandenburg asked Attorney General Patricia Madrid to take over the case.

The AG's Office is still considering whether to take the case, spokeswoman Sam Thompson said Thursday.

Rather than wait for a decision from Madrid's office in Santa Fe, Albuquerque officials are using the results of an APD internal affairs investigation to start the process to fire Chavez.

"As of (Thursday) the chief had received and reviewed the results of the internal affairs investigation and recommended termination," Walsh said.

According to the City Attorney's Office, an indictment or the results of an internal investigation does meet the due process
requirement for termination of a police officer.

Chavez, an undercover vice officer, is accused of meeting the girl over the telephone dating service Live Links, according to court records. He allegedly asked if he could come to her house, then came over and raped her there.

DNA taken from the girl's body matched the officer's, court records show.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Police Abuse? Visiting surgeon weighing options in wake of confrontation with Albuquerque cops

By Leslie Wood
Staff Writer, The Independent

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
From the home in Gallup where he is staying, GIMC heart surgeon Vincent Moss talks on the phone Wednesday with attorneys about a potential lawsuit against the Albuquerque Police Department for excessive use of force. [Photo by John A. Bowersmith/Independent]

GALLUP — A 34-year-old Gallup Indian Medical Center heart surgeon reclined on a plush cream sofa on Wednesday night as he juggled telephone calls from zealous attorneys hoping to represent him in a potential lawsuit against the Albuquerque Police Department.

To be exact, nine attorneys, from across the nation, have contacted Maryland native Vincent Moss since news broke about an incident where police allegedly beat him up outside an Albuquerque tavern.

However, the officers and bar owner assert appropriate force was used and Moss came toward them in a threatening manner.

Moss was visiting Albuquerque for the weekend after hearing of the city's reputation.

"I was just walking the beautiful streets of Albuquerque," he said. Moss said he approached Maloney's tavern manager Dave Buehring to question why he had not been served, after he had been ignored by the bar's wait staff for nearly 30 minutes.

Albuquerque police officers reportedly watched as Buehring and Moss discussed his treatment outside the downtown establishment and only took action once Moss followed Buehring back into the bar to settle a tab.

The incident escalated when officers grabbed Moss by the shirt and eventually pushed him onto the ground causing his shoulder to dislocate. Meanwhile, Moss said he was trying to introduce himself as a Gallup physician.

In addition to a dislocated shoulder, Moss sustained multiple bruises on his upper arm and left eye. He was subsequently booked into the Albuquerque detention center and made a $75 bond about 12 hours later.

Due to his injuries, Moss said he is unable to conduct surgery without an assistant. He plans to investigate the incident to determine whether a lawsuit is warranted.

"I want to gather all the facts to decide whether I should pursue legal matters," Moss said. "... but I do know excessive force was used."

He's not certain if his neglect as a customer was race-related because the tavern was filled with more than 100 customers at the time, he said. But he did call witness statements that he came toward the officers in an aggressive stance "a complete lie."

"It's unfortunate it happened to me," he said. "But what is fortunate is that I'll do something about it. I'll do whatever it takes."

Moss is temporarily working at GIMC as a heart surgeon until he is deployed to Iraq in September.

"He has been able to do things they usually can't accommodate," Louise Frechette, said of the surgeon who is temporarily staying at her and her husband's home.

When he arrived in Gallup in late June at about 2 a.m., Moss said he was followed to his Linda Street residence by at least three Gallup police officers who were patrolling the area.

He said a female officer pulled him over and asked if he was lost. The officers then followed Moss until he arrived at the location.

"It's so vague that it's not worth filing a complaint," Moss said. "I can't say it was race-related, but you can never rule it out."

He said incidents such as this are a more common of an occurrence since his arrival to the southwest. Gallup Police Chief Sylvester Stanley said it is not the department's policy to pull over a vehicle without probable cause.

"It's not our procedure to follow people regardless of their color," Stanley said.

However, he invited Moss to meet with him if he had a complaint.

Moss said he has already discussed the Albuquerque incident with the Mayor Martin Chavez, the police department and the governor's office.

Buehring could not be reached for comment, as of press time.