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.

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