Friday, July 22, 2005

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.

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