Wednesday, November 29, 2006

APD Suit Winner Feared Retaliation

Wednesday, November 29, 2006
By Carolyn Carlson and Debra Dominguez
Journal Staff Writers

The man found dying from gunshots along Fourth Street on Thanksgiving evening earlier had said he was afraid of retaliation after winning more than $300,000 in an excessive force case against city cops.
Jerome J. Hall, 42, told the Journal just after the federal jury reached its verdict that he was living in an apartment but did not want anyone to know where because he was afraid of retaliation.
On Thanksgiving evening, Hall was found suffering from bullet wounds outside of an appliance store near Fourth and Schulte NW. He died while en route to the University of New Mexico Hospital.
Just six days earlier, a U.S. District Court jury awarded Hall $307,030 in damages in an excessive force case against three Albuquerque Police Department officers.
Hall had received second- and third-degree burns when one of the officers used a Taser on him multiple times during a 2002 arrest. Hall lost part of his ear as a result of being burned.
The jury found that officers Tim Gonterman, Sean Higdon and David Hinson used "excessive force" when arresting Hall, according to court documents.
During the Nov. 17 interview, Hall also said he had been sober for 16 months and, despite one recent relapse, was back on the wagon.
"Being in recovery is a new chance to turn my life around," Hall said. He added he was now living in an apartment.
"I don't want to say where— I don't want retaliation. I just don't want anyone to know where I live now," Hall said at that time.
Hall, a self-admitted drug user, said he had occasionally lived on the streets east of Nob Hill before getting his apartment.
Lt. Gregg Marcantel, lead homicide detective for the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department, said Tuesday investigators are taking into consideration the timing of Hall's death.
"The timing of the award suggests suspicion, but to what extent I don't know," Marcantel said. "We are taking it into consideration that it was publicly announced that he was awarded the money."
Marcantel said the department is not going to release any information that only the offender would know, such as the type of gun used.
"It is not in the best interest of the investigation to undermine the case," Marcantel said.
He did say investigators were looking into a framework of some things occurring in the area.
"There are some things that stand out," Marcantel said.
Terry Hodges, a pastor at the Shilo Baptist Church where Hall attended, said Hall was an "all-around good guy" who had been working hard to turn his life around.
Hall told the Journal on Nov. 17 that he has three boys who live here in Albuquerque and a daughter in Seattle.
According to court documents, Hall had a pending paternity case, filed in March in Bernalillo County by a Frankie Pinkney. The case is still open and paternity has not been established. Pinkney could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
In order for paternity to be established on a deceased person, the Office of the Medical Investigator must have either the permission of the family or a court order to release blood samples for a DNA test.
Hall said after the jury's award that he wanted to use the money to help his four children and to get his life back on track by going back to college. Hall has said he was a former medical technician and disabled Army veteran.
Hall's mother, Gloria Bishop, came into town from Florida to be with Hall during his federal trial. Hodges said Bishop is too distraught to talk right now. He said Hall's two sisters are now in town and funeral arrangements are being planned.
During the Nov. 17 interview, Bishop said she was in tears when she heard the tapes of the beating and Tasing her son took during the 2002 arrest.
"Here we are in 2006, and I can't understand how this kind of thing is still going on in a country my son willingly and gladly served," Bishop said of her son, who beginning in 1985 served in the U.S. Army Reserves about six years. "It was almost as bad as him being in combat in Iraq. He could have lost his life over this."

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