Friday, December 14, 2007

APD Officers Pair With Needy Children for Meal, Movie and Wal-Mart Trip

Monday, December 10, 2007
By Jack King, Journal Staff Writer

In the toy aisle of a Northeast Heights Wal-Mart on Sunday, one little girl stood up in a shopping cart lined with clothes and shouted at the flurry of shoppers blocking her way, "Beep, beep."
In the clothing department, another little girl laid her face against a pair of velour pants and purred, "Whoa, I want these."
Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Castillo surveyed the fairly well-controlled pandemonium and said, "It makes the job worth it all the rest of the year."
For the last 13 years, area police and sheriff's departments have held Cops for Kids. Children from low-income families are recommended by their school counselors. On a day before Christmas, the officers show up at their doors in squad cars, take them to breakfast, then on a shopping trip using $100 gift cards paid for by private donations, said Albuquerque Police Department Detective Patricia Paiz, who coordinates the program.
This year, 102 officers were paired off with 102 students from elementary and middle schools throughout Albuquerque and Bernalillo and Sandoval counties.
Ten of the students came from Sandoval County, four of them from Bernalillo. Many of the rest came through the Albuquerque Public Schools Homeless Project, and all are from homes with household incomes of less than $800 monthly, Paiz said.
"It's invaluable," said Bernalillo County Deputy Jessica Tyler, of Cops for Kids. "There's the interaction between the kids and the officers, and it gives these kids a Christmas they otherwise wouldn't have."
This year, the day began with a breakfast at Golden Corral that included— as Apache Elementary School third- grader Makayla Sulls firmly asserted— ice cream. Breakfast was followed by a cavalcade of police cars to the Academy NE Wal-Mart parking lot, where Santa Claus, actually Albuquerque Public Schools Police Chief Bill Reed decked in the traditional red and white suit and beard, arrived by helicopter. Later, there was to be a showing of "Enchanted" at the Century Rio 24 theater.
But first, there was serious shopping to be done.
Paiz said she visits the students' homes and gets a shopping list from their parents. They are required to buy a winter coat, shoes or a set of clothes, whatever they most need. But afterward, if there is anything left on their gift cards, they are free to buy toys.
Not all of them do. Some are like Chelwood Elementary fourth-grader Michael Romero, who told his escort, "No, I want to buy something for my dad now.
"He's really nice and he always gets me stuff. He's kind of like wasting his money on me, so I want to get him something."
Wal-Mart assistant manager James Short said Michael isn't the only unselfish student of the many groups he's seen in the 13 years the store has hosted Cops for Kids.
"That's the funny thing. When these kids come in, they always want to shop for their families," he said.

Ex-Chief's Divorce Messy

By T.J. Wilham, Journal Staff Writer

The daughter and wife of former Albuquerque Police Chief Sam Baca are seeking a restraining order against him, citing a history of abuse dating back 40 years.
Baca, who was Albuquerque's police chief from 1985 to 1990, has championed himself as a domestic violence advocate. He started APD's Domestic Abuse Response Team and has testified before Congress on domestic violence issues.
Baca, who was named police chief of Lakeland (Fla.) Police Department when he retired from APD, is also seeking a restraining order against his wife, claiming she has attacked him in the past.
Two separate hearings took place Thursday in District Court. The request from Baca's daughter, Jennifer, was taken under advisement. A hearing for Baca's wife, Vera, was continued to sometime next year.
The court has not heard Sam Baca's request.
Temporary restraining orders, though, are in place for the parties.
In court Thursday, Jennifer Baca told Commissioner Reed Sheppard that her father threatened her twice.
The fist time occurred Nov. 19, when Jennifer Baca met her parents at a Northeast Heights restaurant. Vera Baca intended to leave her husband that day and pretended to go to the restroom with her mother, who also was at the restaurant. She did not return. Jennifer Baca said she was threatened by her father after telling him that her mother was leaving.
Vera Baca filed for a divorce the next day.
"He told me that he knows the law," Jennifer Baca said in court. "He said that accidents happen and break-lines are undetectable.
Jennifer Baca said the second threat occurred when her father called her on Thanksgiving, about a week after her mother left him, and asked if she knew where his bullets were.
Jennifer Baca testified that she hated her father since birth, adding that she had been abused in the past by him.
Baca, who returned to Albuquerque in 2000, said he never abused his daughter or threatened her. He said he has always had a strained relationship with his daughter and that she was trying to embarrass him.
"(My daughter) is very vindictive," he said. "She would like to ruin me."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Case Dismissed For DWI Sergeant's Son

Albuquerque Journal Staff Report

The son of the Albuquerque Police DWI commander, who was charged in May on suspicion of being a minor in possession of alcohol, had his case dismissed in Metropolitan Court on Tuesday.
Samuel Armijo, the 20-year-old son of Sgt. Louis Armijo, was late for his appearance before Metropolitan Court Judge Sharon Walton, court records show.
But so was the arresting officer, who was to testify, according to court records. The officer sent word to the court that he was having car problems, but the message didn't get through until after the case had been called.
The case had been continued twice— once because the judge wasn't available, the other because the officer was out of state— and the rule requiring cases be adjudicated within six months was set to expire Dec. 19, court records show.
State Department of Public Safety officers stopped Armijo April 14 on suspicion of drunken driving. He showed signs of impairment but was ultimately taken home by his father. Sgt. Armijo was on duty at the time.
Albuquerque police officials said they have conducted an investigation and found that Sgt. Armijo did nothing wrong.
Both APD and DPS have said the other should have arrested Samuel Armijo on DWI charges.

Cop Accused of Rape Resigns

By T.J. Wilham, Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

An Albuquerque police officer accused of raping a female suspect has resigned.
Officer David Maes, 28, was placed on paid administrative leave two months ago following his Oct. 11 arrest on charges of criminal sexual penetration in connection with the sexual assault of an inmate he was transporting.
Maes has not been indicted by a grand jury.
Police Chief Ray Schultz said Tuesday his investigators had just completed a criminal investigation into the incident and were starting an internal inquiry when Maes resigned.
Schultz said Maes likely would have been fired if he hadn't quit.
"It was the right thing for him to do," Schultz said. "His biggest concern at this point is the criminal investigation."
According to court records, Maes was arrested six days after a woman told Metropolitan Detention Center officers that she had been raped by Maes while en route to jail.
The woman had been arrested after a stolen car she was riding in was involved in a crash.
While detectives were questioning the woman, she complained her vision was blurry and was taken to Lovelace Hospital for treatment.
Maes was assigned to guard her and transport her to jail once she received treatment. While at the hospital, Maes allegedly sexually assaulted the woman in an exam area and then assaulted her again when he stopped at a baseball field before taking her to jail, according to court records.
Maes had been an Albuquerque police officer since Jan. 22, 2005.Cr

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Assault Alleged at Hospital

By T.J. Wilham, Journal Staff Writer

A woman who has accused an Albuquerque police officer of raping her while she was in custody says he assaulted her at the hospital while she waited to be treated by doctors, according to documents unsealed Wednesday.
She said he later drove her to a baseball field, where he assaulted her twice more before taking her to jail.
Patrol officer David Maes, 28, was arrested Oct. 11, six days after the woman told correctional officers that she had been raped by Maes while he was transporting her to jail, police said.
"We have not unfounded or discounted her claims at this point," Police Chief Ray Schultz said Wednesday. "We are continuing our investigation."
He said his investigators have obtained video surveillance taken from the hospital that supports some of the woman's claims. The woman was at the hospital for possible injuries after being in a car crash.
Maes, who has been with the Police Department for two years, has been charged with criminal sexual penetration. He was released from the Metropolitan Detention Center the day after his arrest, after he posted $200,000 bail.
He remains on paid administrative leave.
As part of the criminal investigation, Maes' DNA is being compared with samples taken from the woman.
At the time of his arrest, a warrant detailing the allegations against Maes was sealed. On Wednesday, the District Attorney's Office agreed that the documents could be unsealed after a request from the Journal, KOAT-TV and KRQE-TV. Judge Denise Barela Shepherd signed an order unsealing the documents.
According to those documents:
On Oct. 4, the woman was riding in a stolen car that was involved in a crash at San Mateo and Gibson SE.
After the collision, the passengers in the stolen car ran away. Police caught the woman, arrested her and took her into custody for questioning.
While auto theft detectives questioned her, she complained that her vision was blurry. An ambulance was called, and she was taken Downtown to Lovelace Hospital for treatment.
While she waited for physicians, Maes was called to watch her at the hospital.
The woman claims that while Maes was watching her, he "immediately started making nasty and rude gestures to her."
"I didn't know to take him seriously," the woman told investigators. "He's an officer that has authority over me. After a while, I realized he wasn't playing no more, then it started to get a little bit scary."
At one point he told the woman that he wanted her to perform oral sex on him.
Maes pulled a privacy curtain shut, exposed himself, and performed a sex act on her, the woman claimed.
After the woman was treated at the hospital, Maes took the woman to her home so she could change clothes, she told investigators.
Doing so would be a direct violation of APD policies, Schultz said Wednesday.
"A prisoner is supposed to go to one place, and that is either the transport center or the jail," Schultz said.
According to documents, Maes then drove the woman to a baseball field near Locust and Odelia, where he sexually assaulted her twice outside his police cruiser, she told police.
Afterward, Maes drove back to the hospital. Once he was in front of the building, he radioed a dispatcher, said he was transporting a prisoner and gave his mileage.
Officers routinely call out when they are transporting prisoners to avoid false accusations such as sexual assaults or brutality claims.
Schultz said that he will make a decision on what discipline action, if any, should be taken against Maes once his department completes an internal affairs investigation.
Prosecutors have not presented the case to a grand jury.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Police OK'd to Test For Steroids

By T.J. Wilham, Copyright © 2007 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer

Concerned that steroid use can trigger outbursts of rage and unpredictable behavior, the Albuquerque Police Department will soon begin testing some of its employees for anabolic steroids.
For the past several years, APD has had a random drug testing policy in place. But the only steroid testing it did was of all new officers before being hired, as required by state law.
Now, under a new procedure recently approved by city leaders, police administrators can test any officer or civilian employee who demonstrates signs of steroid use.
Police Chief Ray Schultz already wants to test one of his civilian employees after other employees said they noticed changes in the person's appearance.
"Under this new procedure, we need some sort of reasonable suspicion in order to test," Schultz said. "Change of behavior, their physical appearance or reliable information they are users would be good enough for us to order the employee to take a test.
"It's important we do this because we are finding more and more that the use of anabolic steroids can result in rage or unpredictable behavior."
For a police employee to be tested for steroids, Schultz has to write a letter to the city's human resources director requesting the test and stating "reasonable suspicion."
The employee must take the test once the request is approved by the human resources director and the city chief administrative officer. Refusal could result in termination.
A positive result also could result in termination.
APD developed a policy several years ago that allows administrators to randomly test its officers. Under the policy, a computer generates a list of about 20 officers every two weeks.
At a cost of $30 to the department, the officer takes a urinalysis test that determines whether narcotics such as marijuana, methamphetamine or cocaine have recently been used.
Schultz said there were no plans to include steroid tests in the random drug testing. To do so would likely involve negotiations with the department's union.
And the cost for testing for steroids is $130 per test. That would cost the department more than $67,000 a year.
Schultz inquired in July about testing for steroids after being told one of his employees might be using them. City attorneys reviewed the request, and under a medical evaluation policy adopted in 2001, they determined Schultz had the right to request the test.
This month, city attorneys developed a procedure that allows him to do so.
Under the 2001 policy, city department heads can request drug tests if they believe an employee is not physically or mentally capable of performing their duties.
Albuquerque Police Officers' Association President Ron Olivas said he was unaware of the new procedure.
However, he said he didn't object to it.
"I guess they don't have to consult us, but it would have been nice to know so we could inform our members," he said. "We don't have a problem with it as long as there is something in place to ensure the officers' rights are protected and they are not doing this without some sort of just cause."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

October 22nd Events In Albuquerque

Day of Action To Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation

The Legacy of Torture: The War Against the Black Panther Party
The Thin Blue Line

Join us at:
Out 'chYonda, 7 p.m.
929 4th Street SW

open community forum/discussion
gentrification and the police state

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ex-Cop's Charges In Rape Dropped

Journal Staff Report
The New Mexico Attorney General's Office filed paperwork Friday saying it is dropping the sexual assault case against fired Albuquerque police officer Timothy Chavez.
The notice was filed without prejudice, meaning the case could be refiled.
Attorney general spokesman Phil Cisneros said a nolle prosequi was filed because "we didn't feel it would serve the public to proceed."
"It's a good day for Tim. He can put this to rest," said Mary Han, who with co-counsel Paul Kennedy defended Chavez at trial this month. The trial ended Aug. 14 with a hung jury that voted 11-1 for acquittal on all but one count. It voted 10-2 for acquittal on that count.
"They spent vast amounts of money prosecuting a case I think they didn't analyze carefully. They put that man through all kinds of hell, when there perhaps were other remedies they could have sought and didn't even try," Han said.
Chavez, then a 33-year-old decorated vice cop, was arrested on the rape charges in May 2005. The girl told police she had been raped after meeting a man on Live Links, an adult telephone dating service.
The girl admitted during testimony that she had lied about her age to Chavez and other men to get onto the service.
Chavez said that the sex was consensual and that he thought the girl was 18.
The girl, Marissa Mason, and her mother have filed a civil lawsuit against Chavez and Albuquerque. The city is defending that lawsuit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Councilor wants gang members posted online

By: Eric Kahnert, Eyewitness News 4, and Reed Upton,
See Tha Video Here

A city councilor working with the mayor’s office has introduced legislation that would create an online registry of the mug shots of gang members. Councilor Ken Sanchez introduced the bill Monday night. The council will consider it at the next council meeting. Under Sanchez’s proposal, the pictures and names of gang members would be available on line if APD determines someone was involved in a gang related crime. Addresses will not be posted with the pictures and names in order to minimize the possibility of retaliation.

Sanchez says, unlike the sex offenders Website, people on the gang Website could eventually get off of it.

“Young kids make mistakes and hopefully they will take the right path in the future,” he says. “Once they’re on the registry, it’ll be for two years unless they take a prevention program. [Then] they’ll be taken off immediately.”

*** *** ***

Some thoughts from a citizen with eyes open:

So walking with two of your friends on central will get youth entered into an online database next to sex offenders and pets that the city is about to euthanize!! How would you feel if the APD or APS Police entered your kid into this database, branding them as a gangster for two years, maybe the rest of their life?

How does the APD define who is in a gang? Baggy pants? Brown or Black skin? A blue hat?

This humiliating bill didn't pass, but we should count it as a near victory for legalized racial profiling. Call up Mayor Martin "Gentry" Chavez and Councillor Ken Sanchez and let them know that this looks like just another vindictive attack on youth of color by the City government.
You can leave comments for Councillor Ken Sanchez here:
If the idea is to protect the public, we should create an online database of crooked politicians and abusive cops, with their photos and descriptions of their crimes.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Wrong Man ID'd in Child Porn Case

Journal Staff Report

The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department on Thursday released the wrong name as a suspect in a child pornography case it is working.
The department incorrectly identified Victor Sandoval, 27, as being the person suspected of having thousands of files of child pornography found on a computer located in the home where he is living.
On Friday evening, Lt. Scott Baird, spokesman for the department, called the Journal about the misinformation. He said he had just spoken to the lead detective and was informed that Sandoval was not the person who admitted possessing the pornography. He said it was a housemate of Sandoval's who made that admission. He declined to name that person.
Deputies searched the home Monday and arrested Sandoval on unrelated car theft and DWI charges from Colorado.
No one else was arrested at the time of the search and seizure of several computers, a lap top, external hard drives and numerous other items.
Baird said late Friday that on Thursday— when confirming to the Journal that Sandoval was the pornography suspect— he did not have accurate information.
The Journal contacted Baird again Friday morning to reconfirm the facts in the Journal article published that morning. He did.
But he called back late Friday to say he was incorrect.

Friday, August 17, 2007

APS officers' sickout follows gun vote

By Susie Gran, Albuquerque Tribune

Almost all of the Albuquerque Public Schools police force failed to show up to work early today in an apparent sickout, but by mid-morning most were back at work.

The 26 officers' absence came after the Board of Education on Thursday refused to allow them to carry guns around the clock and didn't act on a recommended pay raise.

"Everybody's very concerned," said Albuquerque Public Schools acting Police Chief Steve Tellez.

Tellez said the sickout was not a union-sanctioned event and that he was not warned to expect a protest.

However, Tellez said he knows what the officers' issues are: pay and guns.

"We told them the safety of the students is more important than what they were doing," Tellez said. "They were trying to send a message.

"They realized their priority and came back to work. Their emotions got the best of them."

Tellez said he expected all the officers to be back at work today. The district has policies for violating sick leave, he said. Also, there is a "no-strike" clause in the police union contract with the district.

"If discipline is necessary, then we'll take that action," Tellez said.

The school district has 33 sworn officers who are allowed to carry their weapons before and after school hours. They have been pressuring the school board to allow them to be armed during school hours.

A pay raise also has been under discussion. APS police officers make $12 per hour compared with $19 to $21 per hour for city police and sheriff's deputies.

School board members this morning said they did not believe the officers' absence caused a safety crisis.

"There's no question our schools are very, very safe today," board member Robert Lucero said.

But Lucero said he's disappointed in the officers who didn't show up.

"It kind of reminds me of a child throwing a temper tantrum," he said. "The fact they could do this is incredibly childish."

Board member Marty Esquivel said he didn't agree with the sick-out tactic, although he can understand officers' frustration with the gun issue. School police should realize there will be more discussion about the gun policy, he said.

"It's not over, although they seem to think it's over."

Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said plans were developed at an emergency meeting this morning to patrol the schools.

About 20 city police officers and sheriff's deputies on desk assignment were shifted to schools, wearing their guns and ready to respond to emergencies, he said.

"This is not a long-term service" to the schools," White said, although he left open the possibility of asking payment from the district for the police coverage.

The school police absences were "placing a burden on everyone," White said, although the morning was calm.

The school police protest followed a 4-2 vote Thursday by the school board's Policy Committee to make no immediate changes to the police force.

A commission formed by Superintendent Beth Everitt has met this summer to consider changes to the APS Police Department.

An audit this year identified various problems in the department, and longtime police chief Gil Lovato's contract was not renewed. Lovato has since sued the district for wrongful termination.

The commission, the Mayor's Office and White all support arming the school police, but the school board kept the status quo Thursday.

"We like what we have," said Dolores Griego, a South Valley board member who has opposed arming school police around the clock.

The committee vote left open the possibility of upgrading the department someday to an accredited, fully armed police force, but that could take as long as three years, board President Paula Maes said.

"They won't have a Police Department by then," Albuquerque Public Schools Sgt. Kim Murray said Thursday night. "This Police Department is about to disintegrate."

Officers are resigning over the gun issue and low pay, he said.

Everitt said Thursday she endorsed the commission's recommendations, which could be phased in over three years.

She said legislative or legal action would be necessary to create an accredited police force that meets national standards; that a police chief should be hired now; and that the department should be reorganized and salaries increased for officers.

Paul Broome, the mayor's education adviser, criticized the board for not resolving the gun issue and not endorsing the commission's work.

"This is a classic example of what the mayor has been talking about. This school board won't make the hard decisions. They put everything off. They don't take a stand," he said.

Broome served on the commission, along with principals, students, parents, law enforcement officials, a legislator and community members.

But board members Griego and Berna Facio said the commission did not represent all segments of the community. Several students complained that the student voice wasn't being heard.

Broome took issue with the criticism. "This was not a slanted commission," he said. "Quite frankly, that's an insult to the entire group."

Two students on the commission, from Cibola and Manzano high schools, favored arming school police.

Griego, Facio, Maes and Lucero voted for the status quo. Esquivel and Mary Lee Martin said they wanted to follow the commission's recommendations. Gordon Rowe left the meeting before the vote.

Maes said her vote "had nothing to do with guns" and that she was giving a vote of confidence to school police.

The committee vote is not final. The full board will consider the commission's recommendations at a later date.

At a news conference this morning, Maes said the board will vote to accept the commission recommendations.

"The first choice of this board will be to have a standalone Police Department," she said.

A standalone Police Department would require accreditation, armed officers and higher pay, the commission said.

Lucero argued that creating a full-fledged police force wasn't allowed by state law, based on a legal opinion by board attorney Art Melendres.

Lucero said the board should wait for an opinion from the attorney general before taking action.

Another discussion on the gun issue is inevitable, board members agreed.

"We'll rehash this issue when the next chief is on board," Lucero said.

APS Board Tentatively Sticks to Police Plan

By Andrea Schoellkopf, Journal Staff Writer

The Albuquerque school board is considering keeping its police force status quo despite numerous recommendations for change.
A four-member majority of the board endorsed a plan Thursday to continue the current police arrangement— an unaccredited security force— overriding two recommendations by its administration and a community commission that spent the summer studying the issue.
Ultimately, some felt the lines were being drawn on the issue of whether to arm officers full time.
Currently, APS police officers are only allowed to carry guns after school hours, and must keep the arms locked in their vehicles. If there is an emergency requiring a weapon during school hours, the officer must first obtain permission from the APS superintendent.
Superintendent Beth Everitt— who recommended the change— said the current force already has commissioned officers, and city and county police now carry guns in the schools anyway.
"We're more liable for them not to be a police department because of the way it's already set up," Everitt said. "We need to either be fish or fowl."
The final vote will go before the school board in a regular meeting later this month.
"I feel, quite frankly, we wasted a whole lot of time," said Paul Broome, education adviser for Mayor Martin Chávez and a member of the commission, which was created after an APS audit found problems with the district's police department under former chief Gil Lovato.
Board members appeared close to supporting the committee's recommendation until Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White— a commission member who supported a fully authorized police department— told the board he didn't think legislation would be approved that would permit a school district police force.
Board president Paula Maes suggested that the district continue with its current force while pursuing other options.
"I don't think it's going to make much difference whether we (create a stand-alone police force) or continue the way we are," Maes said. "We had a police department that works. We had a leader that didn't work."
She said the board has already approved the commission's recommendation for upgraded police equipment, and other considerations for higher pay could go into effect with or without a certified department.
Maes said she felt compelled to stay with the current force after White said Thursday that APS may not be able to have a full police force until 2010. Her motion drew support of the anti-gun board members— Robert Lucero, Berna Facio and Dolores Griego— with Marty Esquivel and Mary Lee Martin voting against.
APS has asked the state Attorney General's Office to issue an opinion on the legality of a school district police force.
The policy committee meeting was moved into the main boardroom to accommodate the nearly 90 attendees, most of whom were there in regard to the police policy.
Opponents— waving hand-made posters arguing against any guns in the schools— argued that students should be consulted on the matter.
But those who supported the changes were not pleased.
"You will have my resignation by the end of the month," APS officer Simon Beltran said. "And there are probably two to three officers that will go with me."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

S.F. Narcotics Chief Accused of Battery

by Bruce Daniels, Albuquerque Journal

Sgt. Michael LeBlanc, current head of the Santa Fe Police Department's burglary/narcotics unit, was charged this week with a misdemeanor domestic violence count of battery of a household member, The New Mexican reported today on its Web site.

It was, according to court records, the second time in the past 3 1/2 years that LeBlanc has been charged with domestic violence, The New Mexican said.

According to the paper, a domestic violence hearing officer in state District Court in Albuquerque issued a yearlong restraining order against the 34-year-old LeBlanc, requiring him to stay away from his estranged wife.

The latest charge stems from an incident on July 22 in which LeBlanc allegedly punched his estranged wife on the left arm and left thigh following an argument, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in Bernalillo County Metro Court, The New Mexican said.

The complaint also alleges that LeBlanc pushed his estranged wife up against a wall three days after the July 22 incident, The New Mexican reported.

LeBlanc was not arrested but charged by a criminal summons and is scheduled to be arraigned in Metro Court at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 4, according to the report.

His wife filed for divorce in Albuquerque on Aug. 8, The New Mexican said.

The New Mexican reported that LeBlanc was charged with battery on a household member in 2004 in which he was accused of walking the mother of his older daughter away from his home using a police technique known as an "arm-bar," and of threatening to shoot the pregnant woman in the stomach, according to a Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety report.

LeBlanc, who denied making the threat or brandishing a weapon, was given a deferred sentence at the time and after six months the charges were dismissed, The New Mexican reported.

LeBlanc replaced Sgt. Steve Altonji, who was put on leave early this year after the U.S. Attorney's Office notified Santa Fe police that Altonji was the target of a federal grand jury investigation at the beginning of the year, The New Mexican said.

Police Chief Eric Johnson told The New Mexican that LeBlanc will not be placed on administrative leave because the allegations against him are not as serious as those against Altonji.

Safe Schools Are Gun Free Schools!

Hi SWOPISTAS, allies and supporters,

Just a friendly reminder that tonight the APS Policy Committee will be accepting or
rejecting the recommendations to the Safety Commission on creating their own armed
police force for APS.

We need all parents and supporters to come to the meeting today at 4:30pm to state
that we need a Comprehensive Safety Emergency Plan that focuses on our kids and not
on weapons.

The information is below. Please call the office if you have further questions.
There will be media present so we need to be visible. KOB-TV came to SWOP this
morning to interview Monica and will be reporting later tonight. Please show your

Safe Schools are Gun Free Schools!

APS Policy and Instruction Committee Meeting on Thursday August 16, 2007 at 4:30pm

6400 Uptown Blvd NE (across from Coronado Mall) De-Layo-Martin Community Room. What
you can do:

1. Meet us at SWOP at 3:30pm Thursday or show up at the meeting at 4:30pm to say:
Reject the recommendation of the Commission. APS should create an emergency plan
that prioritizes a comprehensive approach to safety without guns. Safe schools are
gun free!

2. If you cannot make it please call (505) 880-3739 or e-mail (click links below
to e-mail) the School Board members Wednesday and say: Reject the recommendation of
the Commission. APS should create an emergency plan that prioritizes a
comprehensive approach to safety without guns. Safe schools are gun free!

3. Come to the School Safety Focus Group to talk about alternatives Tuesday August
21, 2007 211 10th St SW @ 5:30pm.

For more information call SWOP at 247-8832 or e-mail Monica at

E-mail your APS Board Rep by clicking their name below the flyer.

Paula Maes
(District 5)

Dolores Griego
Vice President
(District 1)

Gordon Rowe
Board Member
(District 7)

Martin Esquivel
Board Member
(District 4)

Mary Lee Martin
Board Member
(District 6)

Robert D. Lucero
Board Member
(District 2)

Berna V. Facio
(District 3)

Mónica Córdova

Youth Coordinator

SouthWest Organizing Project

211 10th St. SW

Albuquerque, NM 87102

505.247.8832 (phone)

505.247.9972 (fax)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

KRQE: Church group resumes park feeds

ALBUQUERQUE (July 29, 2007) - A church group that was citied by police because of the way it was helping feed the homeless is back in business tonight.

Trinity house workers were at a park near 14th and Central NW handing out meals this afternoon.

Police told the Trinity House it couldn't feed the homeless in city parks because it didn't have the proper permits.

The church group said it is now getting special event permits each week to serve.

Neighbors near Robinson Park where Trinity House used to serve also raised concerns about homeless people in their neighborhood.

Trinity House said the homeless have to eat somewhere. Organizers said they feel the park near 14th and Central is a good location.

"It seems like folks are feeling like this is a good place," Chelsea Collange of Trinity House said. "It's nice to be back in the shade and back in a public park.

Trinity House has been serving meals to the homeless every Friday and Sunday for the past two years.

Approximately 100 people show up to eat each meal.

Source: KRQE News 13 | Web Producer: Bill Diven

Friday, July 13, 2007

Church group cannot feed the homeless in Albuquerque park, police say

By Michael Gisick, Albuquerque Tribune

A Catholic group that gives free meals to homeless people is looking for a new place to serve after the city barred it from handing out food at a Downtown park.

The move comes after months of complaints by residents and business owners, who say the Sunday meals at Robinson Park draw drug dealers and other criminal activity to the area and leave the park and their yards fouled by trash and human waste.

But members of the Trinity House, a South Valley group, worry the decision will leave homeless people with few options for a Sunday meal and effectively limit their access to public space.

The group says it plans to go on serving meals from privately owned parking lots and is looking at several other parks as possible permanent locations.

"We want everybody to be happy," said Marcus Page, a founder of Trinity House. "If I have to choose between the happiness of the cops and the happiness of the homeless people, I'm going to choose the homeless people. But I don't want to have to choose."

Trinity House, which draws on the traditions of left-wing Catholic activism, has clashed with some Downtown residents since the group began serving Sunday meals about two years ago. While city officials acknowledge that the group has improved the way it cleans up the park after meals, Trinity House still hasn't allayed neighbors' concerns.

Those issues came to a head during a June 26 meeting between city officials and service providers for homeless people, officials say. Trinity House was told their application for a food service permit had been rejected. The next time they arrived at the park, they were met by police.

"With all the complaints we were getting, it came to our attention that nobody from the Police Department had approved their permits," Albuquerque police Detective Liz Thompson said, adding that police have seen an uptick in crime near the park. "There had been no input from the neighborhood."

Thompson is part of the Albuquerque police crisis and outreach team, which tries to link homeless people with services rather than treat them as criminals. She said the dialogue with Trinity House is continuing.

"The door isn't closed by any means," she said. "We do not want people to stop helping the homeless. But the parks don't really have the appropriate infrastructure - electricity, hot and cold running water, bathrooms."

Thompson said a number of ideas were floated during the June meeting.

The Library Bar and Grill on Central Avenue offered to donate food and the use of its kitchen if Trinity House could find somewhere to serve meals besides Robinson Park, located at Central Avenue and Eighth Street.

Thompson said she suggested a rotating schedule of meals at different parks to keep Robinson Park and its neighborhood from being overburdened. She also suggested Trinity House find a partner to provide an indoor location for the meals.

Page, who attended the meeting, said his group has gotten permission to prepare meals at the South Valley Economic Development Center's commercial-grade kitchen. That should allay concern's linked to the group's food service permit, which had been rejected, Page said.

A separate permit to serve on city-owned property may be a tougher hurdle, however.

Complicating matters for Trinity House is that a number of other church groups also sometimes hand out food at the Downtown park. Thompson said she's counted at least three and believes as many as six other groups make occasional forays Downtown from as far away as Belen.

Thompson said crime often follows the groups' departure.

"You have a certain element that comes and preys on those people," she said. "Believe it or not, as little as many homeless people have, there are people who will rob them."

Drug activity is also a problem, she said.

Although Trinity House's food-serving permit is still pending, Page said the group plans to go on serving from private property.

"We're going to stay away from the park because we don't want to fight that battle," he said. "We're hoping the cops won't want to enforce the health permit. How much of a crime is it to want to feed people?"

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Corporate Prison Boom, Immigration, And The Law

from Prison Legal News
By Tilda Sosaya

Prison construction is booming in the USA, and New Mexico has been the guinea pig for the largest of the private prison corporations like Corrections Corporation of America, Cornell, GEO Corp. (aka, Wackenhut, Group 4 Falk) and MTC. In New Mexico about 45% of our prisoners are in private, for-profit prisons and jails, while the national average is less than 10%. Wexford, and Aramark, medical and food service providers - have had their hands full of cash from our state coffers but have proven less than adequate in providing services, eventually losing their contracts. In a scandal-ridden expose in 2006, it was revealed that Joe Williams, NM Corrections Secretary had been engaged in an intimate relationship with their lobbyist, Ann Casey (moon-lighting from her regular job as an assistant warden in Indiana). Wexford and Aramark both denied that she worked for them, but she was listed as an official lobbyist in the Secretary of State's office. Joe Williams was placed on "administrative leave" in March of 2006 by the Governor, pending an investigation, but the scandal was buried after Richardson's office found "no grounds for further investigation." Prior to being appointed a cabinet post in the Richardson administration, Williams had been the GEO warden in the Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs where a series of incidents (1998-99) left two inmates dead. A state commissioned study into levels of violence found that Hobbs had the highest number of prisoner injuries among all the state prisons. Yet Williams, in spite of his record, was appointed by Governor Richardson - and approved by the NM State Legislature - to run the State prison system.

All the "privateers" have their hands in the prison potty here, as do many of our elected officials. Private for-profit lock-ups are nothing new, they've been around now for more than a couple of decades. The Hamilton County jail in Chattanooga, Tennessee was the first local jail in the U.S. to "go private." CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) was awarded the contract in 1984 to operate the "secure adult facility." And a few years later, CCA built the first private prison in NM which opened in Grants in 1989 under the administration of Governor Garrey Carruthers (R). Until the mid-nineties, it remained the only private prison in our State, but during the administration of Republican Governor Gary Johnson four more private prisons (and several privately owned and operated municipal facilities) were constructed, while others were expanded, many by various contractors friendly with Johnson who had previously been owner and CEO of Big J Enterprises, a major construction company in the State. Recall, if you will, that Governor Gary Johnson was the poster child of the drug reform movement in the late nineties for his stand on legalizing marijuana. In spite of his "liberal" ideas about drugs (perhaps because he's a high mountain trekker, even climbed Mt. Everest ... now he's faded into a quiet retirement, a multi-millionaire at 55 who travels the world in Ray-Bans and a long faded-blonde pony-tail) Johnson took absolutely no interest or responsibility for conditions of confinement in New Mexico prisons. He was only interested in building them.

The private prison corporations have created a whopping boom-economy in the marketing and trade of human flesh, as our State so clearly exemplifies. The stranglehold of prison corporations is wasting state and national resources. These corporate giants are raking in hundreds of millions of dollars, and they are willing to spend mega-bucks in campaign contributions. Bill Richardson, while running his first campaign for the Office of Governor, promised that he'd "build no more prisons, public or private" in our State. He seemed to have changed his mind, however, after raking in $65,000 from GEO alone, more than GEO donated to any other Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the nation in that election cycle. In addition, GEO gave an equal amount of dollars to the Democratic Governor's Association during Richardson's tenure as National Chairman in 2004. Shortly after his second election success in 2006, a no-bid contract was awarded to GEO to build a new prison in Clayton, NM at a cost to taxpayers of $132 million, nearly twice the usual costs of construction. When questioned about these costs, Williams claimed it was due to the "high costs of labor" in New Mexico. Funny ... New Mexico is one of the poorest States in the nation, and wages here are consistently low, keeping the people at poverty levels almost unimaginable in other parts of the nation. Further, an expansion of GEO-owned Guadalupe County Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa is also a done deal approved by legislators as well as the Governor. The new prison in Clayton and the Santa Rosa expansion will add at least another 12-1,500 prison beds in New Mexico. Even now, Williams is saying that we will need more prison beds by 2009 and consideration is being given to a Phase 2 building plan in Clayton. Unfortunately, Richardson is not alone in filling his pockets with money from these flesh-peddlers. Many of our elected officials, from mayors to legislators, have accepted significant contributions from private prison companies, ranging from a couple of thousand dollars and up, and that's on both sides of the aisle. The Institute on Money in State Politics states that GEO donated nearly $80,000 to other New Mexico politicians in just the last election!

Not only does the prison-for-profit industry build prisons, but they also supply virtually everything from medical services to hygiene products and seasonal clothing, paid for by prisoners or by their family members who are often struggling to make ends meet. The market is huge, more than 2.5 million captive customers, and it is a "growth industry." Private prison transport companies, medical and psychological, telephone, food and commissary services are reaping ever-increasing profits from the burgeoning Prison Industrial Complex which is now among the largest contributors to the US GDP (gross domestic product). From apprehension to endless years of lock-up, the justice system and prison industry costs the nation about $150 billion annually. While the government pumps up the rush of fear in the meager minds of a propagandized nation, prison building is at an all-time high.

At the same time in near-by Texas, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado prison building is reaching an all time high as more and more immigrants are rounded up by ICE and Homeland Security under the "detain and deport" agenda (2002), replacing the former "catch and release" tactics of la migra. The ante has been raised - considerably. ICE is rounding up hundreds, if not thousands - of immigrants every day and their goal is to lock up 12 million immigrants by 2012. Right now, more than 200 children, toddlers, teens, and babies - are locked up in CCA's Hutto Residential Facility in Taylor, Texas, while others - teen-agers, children of immigrants - are literally being disappeared. As the prison boom escalates at exponential rates, building contractors like Halliburton and KBR are getting into the game, contracting to build facilities for "owner operators" like GEO and CCA. Prisons no longer rehabilitate, they entomb and dehumanize people. Prisoners are mere commodities stacked in warehouses, moved where/when they're needed, all for profit. Furthermore, there is virtually no oversight of prisons, security issues continuously cited as the primary reason. Even the UN investigator, Jorge Bustamante, was denied entry into Hutto as well as other immigrant facilities around the nation.

While crime rates continue to decline, prisons continue to be built, overcrowding most often cited as the "reason" behind the perceived need. Prisons are overcrowded for many reasons, but in New Mexico there are several specific reasons that prisons are bursting at the seams: prisoners are not being released on time, when their sentences are complete. In a report just completed in May by the NM Legislative Finance Committee, it states that the Parole Board removed "20% of inmates scheduled for parole from hearing dockets because of inadequate or missing documentation, facility transfers, or other reasons." This report also lists the various administrators in the system, including the Population Control Administrator, Janet Bravo, formerly a compliance monitor with the state overseeing GEO's contract facilities. Her husband, Erismo Bravo, had been warden at GEO?s Guadalupe County Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa back in 2000-02. Now he holds a higher, regional position, but his wife is "minding the store" at the New Mexico DOC's central office in Santa Fe, making sure the prison population is well controlled.

Reasoned excuses for increased prison building are proffered by the Corrections administration at the tables of legislative committees. They and the so-called experts (too often, former corrections professionals) rather easily convince legislators to build more prisons. Furthermore, recidivism in New Mexico is ridiculously high with at least 70% of all convicts returning to custody - a few are repeat offenders - but most are taken back to jail for "technical violations," which include testing positive for drugs, having overnight guests in their residences, possessing high-tech equipment, such as a new computer, being unable to find or keep a job, or merely for missing an appointment with a parole or probation officer. Employers are annoyed by the ever-present PO's coming into businesses like gang-busters, disrupting the work environment, and causing undue customer concern. The Probation and Parole division should not be under the sole authority of the Department of Corrections, perhaps, as in the Federal system, we should simply eliminate parole, and subject all probationers, both those coming from prison, as well as those who receive no prison time - to the jurisdiction of the courts. As it stands now, probation and parole often ignore even judges' orders and they're getting away with it. The system is a mockery of justice.

All of this must cause us to wonder a few things. First, who profits? Politicians, stock-holders and the corporations, in brief, but also the "corrections professionals" who move with ease between public and private sectors. Joe Williams, for example, will probably be re-hired by GEO in a high-level management position when his tenure with the State expires. Secondly, who will fill all those prison cells? We know that for now, at least, the focus is on immigrants, many who come here seeking asylum from war-torn nations and others merely trying to support impoverished families. We should also know that children, our children are being targeted, third grade reading scores are one of the components tallied in the projected need for prison beds. While educational funding declines and prison funding increases, the child left behind will inevitably be a prisoner in ten years, they figure. While charter schools arise and are publicly funded, private schools are growing nation-wide and the pressure to privatize education will continue to increase across the country. The children left behind, will undoubtedly be minorities and/or from among the poorest families in a nation now sadly dominated by the never ending wars - foreign and domestic - against people of color. The neo-con ideology guarantees that economic disparities will continue to grow, and thus prisons will be needed to contain those of us at the "bottom of the barrel." There will be three "classes" of people if this continues: the wealthy elites, the watched, and the watchers. Maybe the rest of us will just have to hide.

And, as I write this I must wonder what further affects will face my family as a result of this article? My son, who has been incarcerated for almost ten years, has been thwarted many times in his efforts to be released, in spite of the approval of the parole board last year. He's been abused and harassed, punished and even tortured, but that's another story. He is soon to be released and I have awaited his homecoming for five years, the expected time he'd have served except for my outspoken criticism of the system. Since he's been in prison, his brother died, his three sisters have all moved to other states, and he has a niece and nephew he's never seen. He has spent seven of almost ten years in solitary confinement and he's only 28 years old. Yet he urges me to continue in the struggle and for that I laud his strength and resilience, and I love my son, he's my shining star in spite of his situation. Ultimately, we've realized that even the parole board seems to have little power, nor do judges, our legislators have given it all to parole and probation officers. The local parole office still will not approve his parole plan, and we've come up with more than a few alternatives. PO's harass and humiliate ex-cons on a daily basis, and who profits? Corporations like GEO, CCA, KBR and Halliburton and their rich stockholders. Who suffers? We all do. Our communities are degraded; our people are wounded and angry. This is an environmental issue, an issue of race, economics and class, an issue of too little concern from too many people. We must stand and take notice. One out of every 136 citizens - mostly people of color - are behind bars in the USA today, but according to industry estimates, one in twenty Americans will spend time in a prison or a jail by 2020. And that was before 9-11 and The War on Terror. How many more wars, how many more deaths, how many more prisons, how many more broken families will it take before this nation crumbles, and notions of "freedom" are ground into dust? ... one can only wonder.

Tilda Sosaya has been an advocate for the rights of prisoners and their family members in New Mexico for the last ten years. She may be contacted at:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Armed Albuquerque Public Schools police force costly, estimate reveals

Check Out SWOP's Blog

By Susie Gran, Albuquerque Tribune
Thursday, June 21, 2007

An armed school police department with patrol cars and higher wages will cost Albuquerque Public Schools an additional $1.8 million.

That's the estimate being provided on June 21 to the Community Safety Commission, a group that will propose changes to the district's police force to Superintendent Beth Everitt.

The estimate was prepared by Chief Business Officer Bill Moffatt, who cautioned the district would have to keep police salaries competitive with local law enforcement "which could provide a potential drag on funding to schools."

Moffatt said the current district budget for school police and campus security is $5.2 million.

The commission is considering several options: contracting for law enforcement services with local police agencies; upgrading the current school police force; turning the school police into an unarmed security department or contracting with a security agency.

Everitt is seeking recommendation for reorganizing school police in the wake of a critical audit and the ouster of School Police Chief Gil Lovato.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A deeply damaged life collides into greater tragedy

By Joline Gutierrez Krueger, Albuquerque Tribune
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cynthia Seeley told people she wanted to die.

In her short, painful 40 years of life, she had buried a son and been raped by a relative and, later, by an Albuquerque police officer.

She had fallen into booze and crack cocaine to escape the anguish of many failed relationships, male and female. She was a convicted felon, a drug trafficker, a forger and a woman on the edge.

She had also been a near-millionaire after receiving $943,380 in a federal lawsuit against Christopher Chase, the police officer she accused of rape.

In the courtroom that day in February 2005, she had smiled. And cried.

Two years later, money had apparently not bought her happiness.

In the morning of June 16, she tried to kill herself, according to a criminal complaint.

She downed a pint of vodka and a handful of alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication. She got behind the wheel of a Chevy Avalanche and hurtled on Georgia Street Northeast through a residential neighborhood north of Expo New Mexico.

No one knows why she was there.

She ran a stop sign at Mountain Road and slammed into a silver Lexus driven by Tran Dung, 47, sending his car spinning and snapping his neck, the complaint says.

Doctors at University of New Mexico Hospital say Tran, a recent immigrant from Vietnam, is paralyzed and will likely die a "slow, painful death," the complaint says.

His condition had been so grave that Albuquerque police had initially charged Seeley with vehicular homicide.

For now, though, Tran will live. He is listed in serious condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Seeley will live, too, whether she wants to or not. She is charged with great bodily harm by vehicle and remains in the Metropolitan Detention Center in lieu of $100,000 cash-only bail.

She had walked away from her SUV, crumpled into the front of a house. Police say they found her curled on a front lawn, rocking and muttering, "I didn't want to hurt anyone."

Less than a mile from where she sat was the place that on a cold February day in 2002 she had been hurt, too.

She had testified at her federal lawsuit trial that Chase, an Albuquerque police officer for four years, had parked his squad car behind a Bennigan's at Louisiana Boulevard and America's Parkway Northeast and raped her in the back seat.

When it was over, he threw her and her purse to the ground "like trash" and drove away, she testified.

Chase had been one of two officers called to her apartment to investigate a call of domestic violence with her girlfriend.

Chase had offered to drive her to a friend's house so that the two women could separate and cool off when he veered off to the Bennigan's instead.

Seeley's lawsuit was one of six against Chase. All told, the city has paid out nearly $3 million in those cases.

Chase is serving a 15-year prison sentence after pleading no contest to 10 criminal charges involving attacks on seven victims, including Seeley, between 2001 and 2003.

If she is convicted, Seeley could be serving prison time as well. Certainly then her mental state will be brought out again in court.

During Chase's trial two years ago, psychologist Elaine Levine testified that Seeley had diagnoses of long-term depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug dependence and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Seeley, Levine said, was born of a mother strung out on heroin and into a life where nothing and no one could be counted on. She was sexually molested by a grandfather, Levine said. She gave birth to her first child when she was a child herself; by age 18, she was a mother of two.

Seeley married the second child's father, who abandoned her with three children when she was 21, Levine said. She began using cocaine and crack cocaine, especially after the death of her youngest son, killed, ironically, in a car crash.

"She has really suffered her whole life," Levine said.

The psychologist had advised the court that Seeley would need intensive long-term psychotherapy to help her "peel back layer after layer of trauma."

Whether Seeley had engaged in such treatment is unknown. If she had, it apparently had not worked.

Now, the pain that has brought her to her knees has apparently brought pain and paralysis to Tran and his family. The legacy of her sorrow is passed on, ugly and cold and relentless.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Police officers shouldn't carry guns, review team says

Check Out SWOP's Blog

By Susie Gran, Abq Tribune
Thursday, June 14, 2007

It's time to disarm the school police and let city and county cops carry the guns, the experts say.

Contracts with Albuquerque police and the Bernalillo County sheriff are the best law enforcement option for Albuquerque Public Schools, a review team from the Council of Great City Schools says.

The team's recommendation was reviewed on June 14 by the district's new Community Safety Commission, formed to help determine the fate of the embattled APS Police Department.

The council team also recommended overhauling the district's police department to create a new safety and security arm.

The team said the Albuquerque Board of Education and its administration don't seem to have the will or leadership to run an armed police force.

"Based on their past performance, it is not apparent that the Board of Education and the district's executive leadership team would provide the executive leadership, support and backing, and make the critical and difficult decisions that would be required to create a safety, security and professional, fully authorized law enforcement department," the report said.

The review team said the proposed safety and security department could concentrate on intervention and prevention in creating safe schools.

The commission will review the team's recommendation, then forward its own recommendation on to Superintendent Beth Everitt.

The goal is to have all changes in place by the time school starts in August, said district spokesman Joseph Escobedo.

The APS Police Department has a $3.1 million budget and 40 sworn officers, who are allowed to carry their weapons before and after school. Currently, there are 32 officers and eight openings.

Everitt called on the Council of Great City Schools to make recommendations on best practices for school police after the debate over arming officers heated up and audits verified problems in the department.

The chief for the last 16 years, Gil Lovato, has been on administrative leave since January amid allegations of misconduct and mismanagement of his department.

Everitt has said she will not renew his contract when it expires June 30.

Under Lovato, the district's school police operated as a police department with sworn officers. Many officers have urged the school board to allow them to carry guns around the clock.

The school board agreed to review its gun policy after the council review. Some board members also suggested the district consider disbanding its police force and asking the city or county to contract police services.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, who is a member of the safety commission, said on June 12 that APS must decide whether it needs its own police department, an unarmed security force or a little of both.

"It's kind of like an identity crisis," White said of school police.

"The district needs to do a needs assessment to determine if they need sworn officers. If they do, then they need to be armed."

White said it's not his recommendation for the sheriff or city police to take over school police.

"We should have close coordination, and the head of school police should report directly to the superintendent," he said.

Meanwhile, the district and Lovato are preparing for a court battle over his contract.

Lovato's attorney, Sam Bregman, said he intends to sue the district on the grounds of wrongful termination, defamation and retaliation.

The district refused Bregman's offer of a $500,000 settlement to end the dispute, district spokesman Rigo Chavez said.

An internal audit of Lovato's department identified 20 infractions including poor evidence-room inventory

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Details of APD SWAT shooting revealed in search warrant

By Michael Gisick, Albuquerque Tribune

An Albuquerque SWAT officer fired a gunshot into a house where a knife-wielding man had barricaded himself and his daughter, according to a search warrant. Moments later, officers stormed the house and shot and killed the man.

The warrant, filed Monday, offers new details on the confrontation between police and Jay Martin Murphy, 42.

Murphy was killed June 5. Police say he threatened officers and his 14-year-old daughter with a 12- to 14-inch knife.

According to the warrant, police were called to 1608 Spence St. S.E. at about 1 p.m. June 5 after a report that Murphy was in his front yard with a knife.

A uniformed officer found Murphy driving through the neighborhood and followed. Murphy threw a beer bottle out the window of his truck, the warrant says.

Murphy then returned to his house on Spence Street and, after walking toward the front door, turned toward the officer while holding the knife. His son, Jay Murphy Jr., 19, exited the house and "advised the officer his dad was `harmless' and tried to calm the situation down," the warrant says.

As Murphy Jr. and the first officer continued talking, a second officer arrived and found Murphy Sr. standing on the porch. Murphy threw a beer bottle at the officer and started throwing other items from the porch before retreating behind a wrought-iron screen door.

Murphy's daughter, Mariah, tried to leave the house but Murphy grabbed her arm and told her, "You are not going anywhere," the warrant says. Before he closed the house's front door, officers also heard Murphy say, "Shoot me," "Shoot the knife" and "I see you guys with guns."

A SWAT team arrived at the scene and decided to force its way into the house after determining Murphy's daughter was in immediate danger.

"Prior to the entry into the residence, a SWAT officer observed Jay Sr. make an aggressive move toward Mariah and believed her life was in danger and fired one shot into the residence from an outside location," the warrant says.

As officers stormed the house, "Jay Sr. attempted to stab one of the officers" and was shot, according to the warrant. He was taken to University of New Mexico Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police spokesman John Walsh said the officers involved in the shooting have been cleared to return to work after a standard, three-day paid leave.

The officers who shot Murphy have been identified as Josh Brown and Russ Carter. Both are 10-year veterans.

Asked whether it would be unusual for an officer to fire into a house where someone had been taken a hostage, Walsh said:

"There's no way to say whether it would be unusual or not. Every single scene is different and fluid and dependent on human events."

The mother of Murphy's two children told police that Murphy had a history of using crack cocaine and other drugs, according to the search warrant.

Murphy had faced several domestic violence charges, including aggravated assault on a household member and child abuse.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Albuquerque Police Identify Man Shot by Officers

Associated Press

Albuquerque police have released the identity of a man who was fatally shot by officers.
Jay Martin Murphy, 42, was killed Tuesday after barricading himself inside an Albuquerque home with his teenage daughter, authorities said.
He was armed with a knife and at one point threw bottles at officers, police said.
Albuquerque police spokesman John Walsh did not release the identities of the two police officers who fired their weapons. The officers are on standard three-day paid leave, he said.
Police have said Murphy had previous run-ins with the law, including arrests on charges of aggravated assault on a peace officer, vehicle theft, criminal trespass, battery and child abuse.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Zap! You're on APD's new Taser camera

By Christopher Sanchez, Albuquerque Tribune

The Albuquerque Police Department is getting more cameras, but they're not to catch people running red lights.

The department will evaluate 20 Tasers with video cameras attached to them starting next week, city officials said Thursday. The cameras are intended to document incidents when the stun guns are fired.

Though Tasers are an important alternative to lethal force, they can be deadly, Mayor Martin Chavez said at a news conference. The cameras will increase accountability for officers and for people getting arrested, Chavez said.

"So there are no questions at the end of the day," he said. "It simply gives us a record."

Stun-gun usage has become a nationwide issue in recent years. According to a 2006 report by Amnesty International, 152 people died in the United States since 2001 after being shocked by the devices.

There haven't been any Taser-related deaths or lawsuits related to their use in Albuquerque this year, Albuquerque police spokeswoman Trish Hoffman said.

In May 2005, a 40-year-old Albuquerque man died after officers used Tasers to subdue him. Police said he suffered a heart attack and that his behavior suggested he had taken some kind of drug.

The Taser cameras cost about $850 each and can record 75 minutes of footage.

Once the Taser is charged and ready to fire, the camera records audio and video. Infrared technology allows the device to record at night.

Albuquerque police will be one of the first agencies in the state to try the device, Chief Ray Schultz said.

Schultz said the department will evaluate the technology for three to six months.

"If we see good results, we'll go forward with ordering more," he said.

The department has more than 400 Tasers, Schultz said.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Vice Cop Charged In Rape of Girl

By T.J. Wilham, Journal Staff Writer

An undercover Albuquerque police vice detective faces charges on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old girl he met through a dating service, police said.
Late Tuesday, 13-year APD veteran Timothy J. Chavez, 33, was in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center on charges of kidnapping and criminal sexual penetration, jail records show. His bail has been set at $75,000.
Chavez, who is expected to be arraigned today in Metropolitan Court, was identified by the alleged victim in a restaurant last week.
Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz announced the "sad news" during a Tuesday news conference.
"We feel it is very important to get the news out to the community," Schultz said.
According to a Metropolitan Court criminal complaint, the girl, who lives in Northwest Albuquerque, called police on April 22 and reported that a man she met through a dating service had raped her.
She said she called the service that day and connected with a man over a chat line for about 10 minutes.
Eventually, the man asked if he could come over to the girl's home. The girl agreed, gave him directions and waited in her front yard for him to arrive, court records say.
When the man, who police said was Chavez, arrived, the girl "immediately" told him that she did not want to have sex, according to arrest records.
Chavez walked into the house and sat on the couch with the girl and talked with her for about 15 minutes. During the conversation, the girl told Chavez her age and that she attended school, court records say.
Once he learned how old the girl was, she told police, Chavez stood up, walked toward the door, turned around and kissed her on the lips.
After Chavez kissed her, the girl once again told him that she did not want to have sex. However, Chavez pushed her on the couch, removed her clothing and started fondling her, she told police.
He eventually took off his clothes and started having sex with the girl, which lasted about 10 minutes, the complaint shows.
During that time the girl had repeatedly told Chavez "no," the complaint states.
At one point Chavez asked the girl if she wanted to "have his children," the complaint shows.
The girl, who is a ninth-grader, again said no.
After the alleged assault, Chavez then put his clothes on and left in a hurry, according to complaint.
The teenager then called police and reported the alleged assault.
The girl told police that during the alleged incident, which occurred between 2 and 4 p.m., she kept her eyes closed the entire time and did not know his name or who he was, court records say.
DNA was taken from the girl and police started an investigation. All the girl could tell them was that he was Hispanic, was in his late 30s, had short hair, was five 5-feet-6, and drove a maroon vehicle.
"Our detectives were actively working the investigation and it came to fruition immediately as she saw him," APD spokesman John Walsh Tuesday.
On Thursday, while waiting in line at Furrs Cafeteria, the girl spotted Chavez in line ahead of her.
She was at the restaurant with her friend and her therapist, who called police, the complaint shows.
Officers passed Chavez while walking into the restaurant. As the officers were talking to the alleged victim, Chavez had left the restaurant in a maroon vehicle.
Eventually, they stopped Chavez in an unmarked police vehicle at the intersection of Montgomery and Monroe NE, the complaint shows.
Investigators were then able to get search warrants for his home, his car and his DNA.
Police arrested Chavez Tuesday after DNA taken from the victim matched his, the complaint shows. Police were also able to obtain records from the dating service that confirmed Chavez had made a call at the time the girl said she connected with him. According to court records, Chavez has had an account with the dating service since May 2000.
Police said they do not know if Chavez was on duty at the time the alleged assault occurred. He has been placed on "administrative leave" pending an internal investigation.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Family Presses City to Re-Examine Case

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
By Jeff Proctor
Journal Staff Writer

The family of a grandmother who was killed a year ago Monday when an Albuquerque Police officer struck her with his squad car wants the case re-examined.
And if Police Chief Ray Schultz, Sheriff Darren White and District Attorney Kari Brandenburg won't take another look at the circumstances surrounding Flora Aragon's death, "we'll hit the streets with petitions and let the voters decide whether these people should still have jobs," Aragon's granddaughter, Denise Baker, said during a rally Downtown on Monday. "We won't stop until police officers stop thinking they are above the law."
On May 21, 2006, officer Zachariah Floyd was responding to a domestic violence call in which a man was trying to remove a child from a home just after midnight near 53rd and Central. On the way, his car hit a block wall and went into a yard where Aragon was outside chatting with family. The car pinned Aragon against a table, killing her.
A grand jury in March decided not to indict Floyd.
Baker and other family members have filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against Floyd and the city of Albuquerque. It is pending.
On Monday, members of the family and local watchdog group Vecinos United signed a citizen's arrest warrant for Floyd and letters to the City Council and Brandenburg asking for a criminal trial.
The group— about 20 people at its largest— marched with picket signs from police headquarters to City Council chambers, where the council was meeting.
Baker walked to the front of the room and asked to present "some paperwork," to which Council President Debbie O'Malley replied: "Excuse me, you're out of order."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Group calls for citizen's arrest of cop in fatal crash

By Michael Gisick, The Albuquerque Tribune
Monday, May 21, 2007

A police watchdog group is seeking the citizen's arrest of an Albuquerque police officer involved in a fatal wreck last year.

New Mexico Vecinos United is also calling for the resignations of Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz and Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, charging both with condoning abuses by their officers.

A letter calling for the resignations will be handed over to city and county officials during a protest today, Vecinos United director Andres Valdez said. The protest marks the one-year anniversary of the crash that left 74-year-old Flora Aragon dead.

A grand jury this year cleared APD Officer Zachariah Floyd of criminal wrongdoing in the crash.

An APD investigation found that he was speeding through a South Valley neighborhood while responding to a domestic violence call when he swerved to avoid another vehicle and hit a wall outside Aragon's home. The wall collapsed, killing Aragon and injuring two other people.

Valdez said the group will hand over a "citizen's arrest warrant" against Floyd as part of the protest, scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. outside the main police station Downtown.

"We're going to present it to the chief and see what the response is," Valdez said. "We're not going to grab (Floyd) and use excessive force against him."

Valdez said the "warrant" has not been signed by a judge.

"And we probably won't find one who will sign it," he added.

APD spokeswoman Trish Hoffman said a warrant without a judge's signature has no legal standing. She said she'd never heard of private citizens swearing out an arrest warrant.

"There's a process in place, and it was followed," Hoffman said of the Floyd case. "The grand jury determined that no crime was committed."

Aragon's family has filed a wrongful death suit against APD, said Aragon's granddaughter, Denise Baker.

The letter from Vecinos United claims officers initially called in the crash that killed Aragon as a minor traffic accident, and that as a result emergency medical responders weren't prepared to treat her injuries.

It also claims police tried to have firefighters wash away blood at the scene to destroy evidence.

Baker said she hopes the arrest warrant, which was her idea, will prompt a second look at the case.

"We don't know what was presented" to the grand jury, whose proceedings are secret, Baker said. "We want another court to look at this."

Baker said the failure to prosecute Floyd left the impression that police officers are "above the law, in some cases."

Vecinos United charges Schultz with condoning abuses by officers in several cases, including Aragon's.

"Thank God most police officers are reputable and good officers," the letter to Schultz states. "You are not one of them."

But, it continues, "You must resign so that there may be some hope for a police chief that would get rid of officers that hurt, kill and abuse human beings."

A letter to White employs similar language and says the group calls for his resignation with "much joy."

Valdez was instrumental in pushing for the creation of APD's independent Police Oversight Commission after a series of police shootings in the late 1990s. He's since been critical of the commission, saying it sides too often with police.

An attempt to make a citizen's arrest of a law enforcement official is not without precedent in New Mexico.

As Valdez noted, Chicano land rights leader Reyes Lopez Tijerina used the proposed citizen's arrest of a district attorney as the basis for the famed 1967 raid on the Rio Arriba County Courthouse in Tierra Amarilla.

"That's not to say we're intending to raid anything," Valdez said. "We're not."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

May Day 2007 Statement

Cop Watch Los Angeles

On May 1, 2007 (May Day), Cop Watch Los Angeles participated in the march
and rally organized by MIWON (Multi-Ethnic Immigrant Workers Organizing
Network) in MacArthur Park. Our role during the march was to observe and
document police harassment and brutality, and to defend the people in the
community as well, at the request of MIWON organizers. As the police began
their attack on peaceful protestors, Cop Watch Los Angeles and other
community members directed families to safety, acting as a buffer between
police and the people.

At no point did Cop Watch LA provoke the mass beating and shooting of
demonstrators that occurred on May 1st. There is no justification for the
actions of the Los Angeles Police Department. In some cases, community
members attempted to defend themselves as they were being brutalized,
acting on their human instinct of self-preservation, by throwing water
bottles or food; this level of defense is far removed from the injurious
rubber bullets, beanbags and tear gas being fired indiscriminately into a
park filled with thousands of people, including families, children and

The attack commenced when the police disturbed a sacred indigenous
ceremony by plowing their motorcycles into the participants. Armed with
only angry words, Cop Watch LA members and the community took on a
defensive position during the assault and posed no offensive physical
threat to the police’s weapons and technology. Cop Watch LA does not
control the imagination and will of other young people who want to take
any sort of action against the police, or imitate our organization in an
undisciplined manner. Our role was to defend those people and stand with
them. Members from Cop Watch LA were heard saying, “We need to get
children out of here, the police are about to attack.” There is also video
footage of members putting their bodies on the line for the people to get
them out of harm’s way.

Many organizations and media outlets have begun to place blame on youth
and anarchists, asserting that throwing trash necessitates a full-scale
police assault on peaceful protestors and families. Video footage from
numerous angles and at several locations clearly discredits those
accusations – it is unmistakable that the police are at fault.

Contacts from the Mayor’s office have confirmed that the attack on
protestors and the community of Pico Union was pre-meditated due to the
desire to test out months of counter-terrorism training and last year’s
embarrassment, when the LAPD could not stop the people from taking the

The strategy by the LAPD, the media, and even some “progressive”
organizations has been to focus on Cop Watch LA as the direct cause of the
May 1st incident is an attempt to get the people on the side of the state
and to isolate CWLA from the communities we live in and organize in. This
is the same tactics that were used by COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence
Program) to destroy organizations like the Black Panther Party, American
Indian Movement, and other groups who focused on making fundamental change
in society. Today as we live under the Patriot Act, these tactics of the
police state continue to go after anybody who resists the status quo. We
hope that organizations and individuals don’t fall into the divide and
conquer methods of the state.

The scapegoating of anarchists today is reminiscent of 1886 Chicago
Haymarket Square Massacre in the first May Day ever celebrated, where
police instigated a massacre during a worker’s strike. The state blamed
the anarchist organizers and railroaded eight innocent people into prison
and hung four (while the other committed suicide).

We must also hold the organizers, organizations, and individuals who are
falling into this accountable. We have to stand on the side of the people,
not the police state.

The mayor Antonio Villaraigosa found himself in El Salvador, on a trip,
while this attacked happened right in the middle of the biggest
concentration of Central American people outside of Central America. Then
he has the nerve to guarantee Chief William Bratton a second term. They
are both responsible for implementing this type of policing and repression
that our communities are facing today.

This attack is not unprecedented! It has happened before and will happen
again – until we put a stop to it. In communities where populations are
predominantly working class or unemployed people of color, police abuse
and harassment is an everyday occurrence. For years, our communities have
struggled to overcome oppression at the hands of those sworn to “protect
and serve.” Still, death tolls and brutality cases continue to climb in
the neighborhoods of South Central, Compton, Watts, Pico Union, Maywood
and Boyle Heights.

Cop Watch’s main goal is to put an end to the injustices that plague our
streets and to oppressive institutions like the Los Angeles Police

We stand on the side of the people and always will.

Cop Watch Los Angeles

May 8, 2007

¡Ya Basta!

Statement Signed and Supported by:
Asians for Jericho / Mumia
East Side Café
Garden Action Collective
Lea Chavez
Los Angeles – Anarchist Black Cross Federation
National Chicano Moratorium Committee
People’s Network In Defense of Human Rights
People of Color Caucus – Peace and Freedom Party
Puerto Rican Alliance
Revolutionary Autonomous Communities
Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
Students for Peace and Social Justice – Cal State Fullerton
Unity Mission to Free the Eight
Youth Justice Coalition

To be included in this statement, please contact us at:

Friday, May 11, 2007

APD, IRO strike deal on complaint against officer

By Maggie Shepard, Albuquerque Tribune

An Albuquerque police SWAT officer faces discipline for falsifying arrest documents, but has been exonerated on other charges leveled in a complaint last year.

The complaint filed with the Independent Review Office stemmed from a man's arrest in October on charges of littering and disobeying a police officer. It alleged that Officer Eric Brown made up a reason to justify the arrest.

Jay Rowland, the city's recently retired Independent Review Officer, investigated the complaint and sided with the civilian, but Police Chief Ray Schultz disagreed.

The differing views could have been brought before the volunteer Police Oversight Commission at its televised meeting Thursday night, but a last-minute deal between the Albuquerque Police Department and the review office kept the issue out of public view.

The deal concedes that Brown did falsify the documents, but not intentionally, said APD Internal Affairs Lt. Paul Feist.

It also concedes that the department's disciplinary plan for him is sufficient, said IRO investigator Trey Flynt.

Word of the agreement spread quickly through the audience, which was packed with Albuquerque police officers, including several of Brown's superiors.

Lt. Bob Huntsman, Brown's SWAT commander, said the two dozen SWAT team and bomb squad members came to the meeting to support their fellow officer.

Huntsman said he felt satisfied with the agreement, which has yet to be finalized by Schultz and must still go before the commission for final approval at its June meeting.

The police report of the incident says Brown found an American Indian man and his family parked in a handicap spot at a Wal-Mart.

Brown says in his report that "they obviously did not have any physical impairments."

He wrote that after he confronted the family, members yelled at him, accused him of racially profiling them and then one of the vehicle occupants tossed his gum on the ground. He only picked it up after several commands to do so, Brown wrote.

The report also says that when Brown suspected the man of being intoxicated, the man became belligerent and would not provide identification.

The woman in the car filed the complaint. It says the family showed Brown a handicap sticker for their son's illness, but that Brown continued to harass them using curse words to the point their children began to cry and bystanders began to ask if they were OK.

Feist and Flynt, representing the police and the IRO, respectively, agreed that Brown broke several rules in addition to falsifying documents, but was exonerated of other allegations in the complaint.

Discipline matters, including officers' names, are generally not made public by the Police Department; the oversight commission does not reveal officers' names.

Brown's name was found in several court and police documents related to the case.

In other news from the meeting:

The political stalemate between the City Council and Mayor Martin Chavez that has kept one commission seat vacant continued.

For at least the 12th time, commissioners heard the mayor's staff say he has submitted a candidate to represent Councilor Brad Winter's district on the commission and is waiting for the council to vote on it.

For at least the 12th time, commissioners heard City Council staff say the council rejected the mayor's candidate. The council maintains that the mayor must select one of Winter's two proposed candidates, and forward one for approval.

Chavez says the city charter allows him to pick whomever he wants, and this time it wasn't one from Winter - a political rival.

Newly selected Independent Review Officer William Deaton, up for confirmation at the next City Council meeting, did not attend.

Nor did his predecessor, Jay Rowland, who retired in April.

The commission gave Schultz its support in light of a recent police union action that may result in giving the chief a vote of no confidence.

Some union members started the process to denounce the chief in an April meeting. The final vote comes in about three weeks.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

APD officer spied on couple's naked doings, entered home, then assaulted them, lawsuit says

By Maggie Shepard, Albuquerque Tribune

Naked dancing. A dead dog. A police officer with an eye for detail and a can of Mace.

It's not the beginning to a great country song. It's the story laid out in a civil lawsuit filed in state District Court on Wednesday by Gary and Penny Schinagel against the Albuquerque Police Department and the city.

On Sept. 6, 2005, the Northeast Heights couple, married for more than 20 years, decided a bit of romance was the best way to celebrate their youngest child's departure for college.

Clothes came off. Music came on.

And soon, Albuquerque Police Officer Russell Moore was at their window looking in, responding, police say, to a call from a neighbor about loud music.

According to the lawsuit, a tape recorder on Moore's belt that records his actions indicated he stayed at the window for six minutes before making his way into their home.

Alarmed, the couple rushed to find their clothes. Gary Schinagel ended up in his wife's robe, confronting the officer, who had entered the home without a warrant and made his way to the kitchen, the lawsuit says.

Here, accounts of the bizarre night differ. The Schinagels say the officer took their fear and shock as aggression and sprayed Mace at them and their dog. The dog later died from complications, the lawsuit says.

The couple said they were handcuffed, still partially dressed, while they bled from being hit with a flashlight and were prevented from relieving their burning eyes.

The officer, according to police reports, said the Schinagels were aggressive and assaulted him, hurting his jaw. They were arrested on charges of battery on a police officer, which were later dismissed, according to court documents.

The lawsuit says the police officers who arrived later failed to help the family dog and left the home unlocked.

An Albuquerque TV station on Sept. 7, 2005, broadcast a report showing the couple's home near Tramway and Menaul boulevards Northeast and noting that the Schinagels weren't available for comment because they were out of town.

The home was burglarized early the next morning, the lawsuit says.

"It's hard to believe," said Ken Wagner, the Schinagel's attorney. "We have a right to privacy in our homes, and there is a right way and wrong way to enter."

Albuquerque police spokeswoman Trish Hoffman was not immediately able to determine if Moore or other officers involved in the incident had been administratively sanctioned.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

New IRO will take charge in June: William Deaton says job is about `finding facts'

By Maggie Shepard, Albuquerque Tribune

One Albuquerque police officer admits but defends punching a handcuffed Downtown reveler in the mouth, busting her lip and breaking her tooth.

Dueling polygraph results support both a citizen who says an officer maced a homeless man for no reason and the officer who said he never maced anyone.

And the family of a handicapped boy says a police officer lied in paperwork to justify harassing them in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

The three cases pending before the Police Oversight Commission illustrate some of the difficult questions facing newly selected Independent Review Officer William Deaton as he prepares to take his post.

Deaton, set to become chief investigator into police misconduct complaints, has yet to be confirmed by the City Council.

Upon confirmation, he plans to start June 1.

He said he might not make the commission's Thursday meeting, where the cases will be discussed, but they likely will still require attention when he takes control of the office in June.

In addition to overseeing investigations into such cases, Deaton, an active 77-year-old, may also have to battle concerns that he is too closely tied to the police union.

The union did not support Deaton's predecessor, Jay Rowland, whom members felt was too tough on officers and overstepped his bounds by suggesting policy changes.

Rowland was informed in December that Mayor Martin Chavez would not renew his contract.

But with support from the citizen Police Oversight Commission and Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz, Rowland put his name in for the job anyway.

The job was advertised for only one week, and only locally - not at the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, as Rowland suggested it should.

Among a handful of applications, Rowland, Deaton and Bruce Thompson rose to the top.

However, Rowland resigned his post last week and withdrew his name from the applicant pool, saying he wants to move to New York and focus on his family.

Thompson, an attorney and land-use policy analyst for the city, also withdrew his name in April.

Deaton, a long-time federal magistrate judge with a dynamic military history, said he put his name in the running after a police union attorney approached him about the job.

Despite the union's solicitation, Deaton said his investigations and rulings won't be biased toward the police officers.

"I can't say I don't have any biases. If I didn't, I'd be dead," he said Wednesday, speaking by cordless telephone from his roof, where he was doing maintenance.

"It's about finding facts. That is what I did at the state bench and the federal job, so I have the fact-finding-type experience."

Aware of the union's involvement in Deaton's application, commission Chairman Steve Smothermon said he is willing to give Deaton the benefit of the doubt, but said the commission will be watching for bias.

"We're going to take a more involved role in this, and the IRO works for us; we don't work for him," Smothermon said. "If we don't like the findings, we'll do what we'll need to do."

Here's how the process works:

• The IRO leads a team of investigators that digs into citizen complaints of police misconduct. The IRO judges whether investigators turned up enough evidence to prove or disprove an officer misbehaved. If there isn't enough evidence to prove it either way, the complaint is put into limbo - not sustained, but not proven false.

• While the team works on the case, police investigators do the same.

• Results of both investigations are brought to the Police Oversight Commission.

• Commissioners, chosen by city councilors and then appointed by the mayor, scrutinize the investigations.

• If the two teams disagree on what the evidence proves or a citizen pursues a complaint when the teams say it can't be proved - and both happen a few times a month - the commission must rule on who's right.

• Unsatisfied citizens have two chances to appeal their cases, first to the commission, then to the city's chief administrative officer.

In the complaint about the homeless man, investigators and commissioners sided with Scott Cameron, the citizen who witnessed the incident. Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz wants to appeal the decision, though the policy only allows citizens to do so.

The Downtown reveler, a 22-year-old woman, complained that APD Officer Debbie Heshley punched her in the mouth while she was handcuffed.

Though Rowland ruled in favor of the woman, the commission initially sided with the chief that there wasn't enough evidence to prove the assault occurred. The woman appealed the commission ruling and was allowed to give a statement in person. She was so persuasive that the commission, for the first time ever, changed its mind entirely and ruled in her favor.

The case is pending until Schultz, too, changes his mind and decides to discipline the officer. If he doesn't, the woman can appeal.

The Wal-Mart case is also waiting on administrative steps. It will be heard by the commission Thursday.