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.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Mayor would support arming campus cops

By Susie Gran, Abq Trib
Friday, May 4, 2007

If Albuquerque Public Schools were to dissolve its police department, the district would have $2.79 million to spend on contracted services. The 2006-07 school police budget includes:

$1.64 million for 51 salaried employees, including 33 certified officers.

$169,000 for secretarial, clerical and hourly employees.

$546,000 for employee benefits.

$77,177 for police chief salary.

$95,000 for supplies and materials.

$33,563 for furniture and equipment.

$15,530 for employee training.

Source: APS

Mayor Martin Chavez is siding with school police in the gunfight at Albuquerque Public Schools.

"Our kids will be better served if APS police are armed" at all times, Chavez said Thursday.

School police have long wanted to carry sidearms during school hours to react more quickly to emergencies. Current school policy requires them to keep their guns locked in their cars until they get the superintendent's permission to retrieve them.

The debate over arming school officers took a turn Wednesday when school officials said they wanted to explore the idea of contracting out police services rather than running their own police department.

The mayor also said he would support a merger of the school police with either the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department or the Albuquerque Police Department - but not all three.

The school district has 33 certified police officers who could be absorbed by the larger law enforcement agencies, which would then provide services to the schools.

"I'm receptive to it as long as it isn't a multiheaded creature," the mayor said of a possible merger.

Chavez said he recognizes that the school district could enter into a contract with the Sheriff's Department instead of the city.

If that were to occur, the city might pull its officers now assigned to high schools and middle schools, he said.

"That would be an option to look at," he said. "At the end of the day, whatever protects the kids is what we want."

The city currently assigns armed officers to all high schools except Rio Grande, which is located in Bernalillo County. Some of the middle schools also are assigned city police officers.

"If they (APS) ask us to come in, it would make very good sense," Chavez said. "We would be receptive to a request for a merger."

Albuquerque Board of Education member Robert Lucero said he and APS Superintendent Beth Everitt were going to meet with Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White this morning to discuss the possibility of a contract.

Lucero said he hopes Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz will also join the discussion and help change the focus from guns to an areawide safety plan.

"If truly safety is the issue, a safety plan is the way to go, not a gun plan," said Lucero, who opposes arming school police 24/7.

"We need to decide what would work covering all 130-some schools. That's impossible for our 33 officers," he said.

The only decision made by the school board Thursday was to hold a public hearing and continue the dialogue.

Board members invited the public, students, teachers and grass-roots organizations to a hearing, but no date was set.

Tom s Garduno of the SouthWest Organizing Project also weighed in Thursday with an anti-gun message.

"Arming security guards only perpetuates fear and violence," he said in flyers distributed in the board room.

Board member Gordon Rowe said he thinks the community wants the board to act, not spend months talking and listening.

"They expect us to do something," Rowe said. "We need to get out in front on this."