When the supervisor of the Albuquerque Police Department’s
Cold Case Squad criticized the grieving mother of a homicide victim for
questioning the actions of “an impeccable police department,” the families of
over a dozen New Mexico murder
victims decided to take a long look at that “impeccable” department, as well as
other investigative agencies in the Albuquerque
area. What that group has uncovered underscores the headline in the Albuquerque Journal, “THE CITIZENS OF
ALBUQUERQUE ARE AFRAID OF THEIR COPS.”Honest police officers are almost as intimidated as the public -- afraid
to speak out against their colleagues and supervisors for fear of retaliation
against themselves or their loved ones.
Police in New Mexico have a long and on-going track record
of murder, bank robbery, kidnapping, extortion, sex crimes, burglary, drug
dealing, aggravated battery, auto theft, fraud, brutality, entrapment, the
planting and/or destruction of evidence, intimidation of witnesses, and – above
all – the cover-up of crimes committed by police officers. According to the
battered wife of Deputy Scott Finley, a member of the Bernalillo County
Sheriff’s Department’s elite Crime Suppression Unit, when she threatened to
call 911 to report a vicious beating, her husband’s response was: “Go ahead and
call.How can you break the law when you
are the law?”
This corruption is in no way limited to cops on the street.
It exists at management levels and extends to the very top echelons of
Mexico law enforcement:
vLt. John B. Gallegos, supervisor of the APD
Internal Affairs Unit, was caught burglarizing a liquor store while on duty.
vDeputy Darryl Burt, senior officer in the
Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department Gang Unit, was charged with kidnapping,
criminal sexual penetration, and other felonies in connection with the traffic
stop of a 24-yr-old male, as well as 34 counts of sexual assault and extortion
of a 16-yr-old boy.He was also found guilty
of drug trafficking charges.
vAPD Officer Andrew LeHocky sicced his 80-pound
attack dog on a homeless woman who was asleep at the time.This was the same Andrew LeHocky who had just
been named “Officer of the Month.”
§ APD Sgt. Mike Garcia,
supervisor of officers assigned to public schools, was indicted on sex charges
involving a 12-yr-old girl who was staying the night with one of his daughters.
(When he was tried in 2004, the jury was deadlocked, and the prosecutors did
not seek a retrial.)
vThe APD Intelligence Unit, under the supervision
of Sgt. Joseph Polisar, was accused of illegally creating and maintaining
secret dossiers on innocent political figures.The only possible use for such dossiers would be to exert influence and
pressure on those politicians. When the existence of the dossiers became known,
they were burned to prevent their inspection.Sgt. Polisar was subsequently elevated to Chief of Police.
The following abbreviated overview of corruption in
Mexico law enforcement is merely the tip of the
iceberg.Since information from Internal
Affairs investigations is not available to the public, and a 1997 study
revealed that the City of Albuquerque routinely set aside $4 million a year to
settle malfeasance claims out of court, there has never been a way for the
average citizen to have any idea of the full extent of what goes on beyond the
“Blue Wall of Silence.” It’s our hope that the families who have contributed
cases to this report may be able to shine a pinpoint of light on those
activities by sharing their personal horror stories, which are set in the
framework of this overview.
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF LAW
ENFORCEMENT IN THE “LAND OF ENCHANTMENT”
Highlighted entries represent a selection of cases from the
New Mexico Justice Packet, a compilation of reports by families of New
Mexico homicide victims who contend that their loved
ones’ cases were not thoroughly and/or honestly investigated by New
Mexico law enforcement – local police, state police,
or sheriff’s department.Professional writers, publishers, and TV
producers, who have an authentic interest in doing stories based on individual
cases or on the Justice Project as a whole, can be placed in touch with the
families through their private investigators.
9/80: APD Officer Joseph Polisar, (who later became Albuquerque Police
Chief) was assigned to investigate the death of his friend, Phil Chacon, killed
in the line of duty during a bank robbery.Polisar’s two-day investigation led to a civil rights suit against him
and two other officers for planting evidence and coercing witnesses in an
attempt to convict Van Robinson, a black male.In 1985, Robinson was acquitted, and a Federal Grand Jury awarded him
$75,000.(Before Polisar was made police
chief, the findings against him were reversed.)
Governor Bruce King pardoned former APD Officer Robert Earl Davis for 1970’s
offenses, some committed while he was a police officer.In 1976, Officer Davis was arrested in a
stolen car and in possession of drugs. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 5
years, (changed to probation by DA Steve Schiff, who said Davis
was unlikely to repeat such an offense).Later Davis was charged with
operating a crime ring with three other APD officers fired in the 1970s for
ripping off people they arrested. Davis
was also a suspect in several 1970's homicides. The four ex-cops admitted to a
6-year, multi-state crime spree, involving more than $1,000,000.The over-1,000 crimes they committed included
robberies, auto theft, homicides, and drugs.This time Davis was
sentenced to 14 years.Gov. King later
rescinded the Davis pardon.
9/81: APD undercover officers, John Hearn and Greg Avila,
were working a suspected vehicle theft ring when they got into a shootout with
one of the suspects, Frank Minott.Minott testified that he shot at Officer Avila in self-defense after
fired at him.Officer Avilla’s blood
alcohol level was three times higher thaN the legal requirement for
intoxication.A female witness testified
that Avila tried to force his way
into her bedroom, tried to grope another girl present, and tried to stab a cat
with a pitchfork, saying he “was hungry.”Minott testified that he told Avila
to stop hurting the women and Avila
said, “What are you going to do about it?”, Minott pushed Avila
away, and Avila pulled a
knife.Then Hearn got involved, and
Minott said he feared that Hearn would hold him down while Avila
cut him, so he ran to the house and Avila
fired a gun at him.Minott got to a gun
and fired back at Avila, wounding
him twice. Minott was found guilty of assault with intent to commit a violent
felony. Chief Whitey Hansen told the press (in regard to the actions of the two
officers), “When you’re in Rome,
you do as the Romans do.” He said there are no guidelines or rules for
Criminal Case: State v. Charles William Holman, et al., Sex Club of
Albuquerque: A list of people involved in this party/prostitution club included
police officers, state legislators, lawyers, and judges.APD Officer John Carillo testified about his
participation in the sex club.
Thanksgiving Day, 1984: State Police Officer Matt Griffin
attempted to force his way into Febye Garcia’s mobile home as the family was
sitting down to dinner.When Garcia
resisted, Griffin pulled out his
can of Mace, struck the woman on the nose with it, and then sprayed her
directly in the eyes.Griffin
then resigned from the State Police and joined the Albuquerque Police
CURTIS LINDSEY HOMICIDE (Albq. PD): Curtis was stabbed in the back in broad
daylight.He stumbled across the street
to a 7-11 store and collapsed on the floor.APD Officer Ronald Merriman (see “Kaitlyn Arquette Case” and“Benny Esquivel Case”) was dispatched to the
scene, as was the Fire Department.The
medics later testified that Officer Merriman refused to allow them to treat
Curtis until he finished interrogating him.Curtis bled to death at the scene.Curtis was schizophrenic and used marijuana as a type of self-medication.His father, Victor Lindsey, says APD shrugged
off the murder as “just one drug addict killing another.” When it became
apparent there would be no investigation, Victor set out to solve the case
himself.Witnesses and informants led
him to the killer, Javier Escalera.Victor gave his information to a friend in law enforcement, who
pressured the case detectives to follow up on it.Eventually Escalera was arrested and
convicted.Victor sued the City of
Albuquerque, the Fire Department, and Officer Merriman for medical malpractice
at the scene.The case was settled out of
DANIELS ABDUCTION AND HOMICIDE: Linda was abducted for use in porno films,
raped, tortured, and then shot to death.James Scartaccini, the one of Linda’s abductors that evidence indicated
was her killer, was allowed to plea bargain by testifying against his
companions. The police and the DA prosecutor “lost” all evidence against
Scartaccini, including his sperm sample, which was later found on the DA
prosecutor’s desk.Scartaccini served no
time at all.
APD Officer Matt Griffin knocked on the apartment door of Ralph Narducci in
response to a loud noise report.When
Narducci asked to see his identification, Griffin
beat him on the head and face.Narducci
was hospitalized.His lawsuit against
the city was settled for $35,000.
APD Officer Matt Griffin, moonlighting as night manager at Pinon Trails Apts.,
refused to cooperate with APD officers executing a warrant for Sam Elliott, a
suspect in the drug murder of Bobby Dytzel. Griffin
refused to identify the apartment where Elliott was staying.Elliott later pled guilty to murdering
was suspended for one day without pay for his refusal to help the officers and
for failing to disclose his outside job.
1987: APD Officer Toby Gallegos was given a 20-day
suspension for unjustifiablyshooting a teen-ager he was chasing on foot.
Albuquerque Journal: Land
Commissioner, Jim Baca, former candidate for mayor of Albuquerque,
disclosed that during his campaign Albuquerque Police Chief Sam Baca had
offered to show him a secret intelligence file on his opponent, Ken
Schultz.(Chief Baca denied that.)Jim Baca said he refused to accept the
file.He said there was a need for
exposure of rampant politics within the Albuquerque Police Department and that
APD Chief Sam Baca was a victim of that “incestuous” system.
Convicted APD Officer Robert Earl Davis and four other men escaped from Santa
Fe Prison. Davis later stated that
Corrections Officer Lt. David Owens smuggled in a gun to help with the escape.
Former Chief Justice William Riordan, the City’s first independent councilor,
found that the APD Intelligence Unit, under the supervision of APD Sgt. Joseph
Polisar, had been secretly stockpiling information on local residents not
suspected of wrong doing.(The Unit was
supposed to be gathering intelligence on motorcycle gangs, organized crime,
terrorists and other criminal activity.)
Gene Romo, City Councilor, ordered APD Chief Sam Baca to “fix” APD’s problems
and gave him 120 days to do so, at which time Chief Baca’s performance would be
evaluated by a special panel.Chief Baca
termed Romo’s plan “harsh.”
10/22/87: City Attorney Pat Bryan
told investigators that he was present when APD Chief Sam Baca offered secret
intelligence file information to Jim Baca. Tapes of investigators’ interview
with Chief Baca suddenly became “missing.”
APD Officer Matt Griffin was fired by Police Chief Sam Baca for refusing to return
a $75 witness fee for a case in which he never testified.
SPRING MILLER HOMICIDE: (Albuquerque PD)Spring, 16, was run down by a truck.Spring’s younger sister, April, (see “April Miller Case”), was with her
at the time.The girls had gone for a
walk, and as they approached the entrance to an apartment complex, they noticed
a truck poised to leave the parking lot.They stopped, but the driver motioned them to cross in front of him.
When they reached the middle of the driveway, he grinned and stomped on the
accelerator.He ran over Spring’s head
with both front and rear right tires, and ran over April’s legs. At that time,
the APD Homicide Unit was involved with several high profile murders,
(including the Darcy Pierce case), so the investigation of Spring’s death was
relegated to traffic officers.Although
there were a number of witnesses and the suspect matched the description of
Martin Martinez, who was arrested several month later for deliberately running
down joggers in that same area of town, Martinez was not charged with
APD Officer Matt Griffin, disguised as a ninja, robbed NM Federal Savings and
Loan and fled in a stolen Camero with a National Guard license plate.
3/88: APD rehired Officer Matt Griffin after his attorney
cut a deal with the city.Police Chief
Sam Baca later stated that he didn’t want to rehire Griffin,
but did so on the advice of his legal adviser and the city Legal Department.
APD Officer Matt Griffin, the “Ninja Bandit,” committed another bank robbery
and made his getaway in a stolen Camero with Colorado Tags.
7/88: A 9 mm Glock semiautomatic handgun disappeared from
the Police Department’s evidence room while APD Officer Matt Griffin was
assigned to guard it.
APD Officer Matt Griffin committed another bank robbery and made his getaway in
a stolen Camero.
APD Officer Matt Griffin robbed First Interstate Bank and made his getaway in a
Police Department was sued by a citizen’s group that wanted access to the APD
intelligence files to see whether they contained evidence of unconstitutional
police investigation of political figures who were not under suspicion of wrong
doing.The police had the intelligence
files burned one half hour before a federal judge issued a restraining order to
prevent their destruction.
1/27/89: PETER KLUNCK KILLING
(Albq. PD): Peter was shot by three members of the APD ROP Team – Robert
Valtierra, Paul Heatley, and Matt Griffin-- on the day he was scheduled to appear in court and had told people he
was planning to “blow the lid off APD.”Friends assert that Peter had been involved in criminal activities with
Officer Griffin and now wanted out.Police released a statement that Peter was shot in the chest in
self-defense.In truth, he was shot
three times in the back.Officer Steve
Nakamura, who did not fire at Peter, said Peter was unarmed.“These guys shot him in the back and I don’t
know why!” he told his sergeant.After a
seven-hour search, a derringer turned up 15 feet from Peter’s body.Peter’s prints were not on it.A tipster from within APD informed the AG’s
Office that the gun was planted to support the self-defense claim. Former Chief
Justice Rheardon, who conducted the Internal Affairs investigation, stated in
his report, “I believe there is a question about whether Mr. Klunck was armed
at the time he was shot and, even if he was, whether it was necessary to shoot
him.”APD reacted by issuing an official
statement that Rheardon had concluded the shooting was justified.Six months later, Officer Griffin, who fired
the death shot, was revealed to be the notorious “The Ninja Bandit” who had
been terrorizing Albuquerque for months.Griffin was sentenced to life for multiple
bank robberies and murder of a witness.Even so, law enforcement continued to refuse to consider the possibility
that Griffin killed Peter to keep him from talking. In 1990,
Peter’s parents filed a federal wrongful death and civil rights suit against
the police chief and several police officers.The judge ordered them to settle out of court with no admission that
Peter’s civil rights were violated.The
Kluncks brought in the FBI, but by the time the case went to the Grand Jury so
much time had passed that witnesses’ memories had faded.The Jury, while not exonerating the police,
handed down no indictments.
1-28-89—CAROLINE FERRARO-SEXUAL, ASSAULT AT KNIFE POINT: Caroline, 18, woke in her home in Rio Rancho to find a
man in a ski mask standing over her with a butcher knife. He threatened her life and sexually assaulted her. Several other women in
the neighborhood reported similar attacks and gave similar descriptions of the perpetrator. The Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety
arrested Douglas VanRoosenbeek.Physical evidence from the scene of Caroline’s attack – semen, perp’s pubic hair, etc. – was
submitted to the crime lab to match with VanRoosenbeek’s DNA. Then, the lab was abruptly ordered not to perform the tests,
VanRoosenbeek was released and allowed to leave the state, and Det. Donald Donges told Caroline that the rape kit and other physical
evidence had been returned to Det. Mike Chinigo, who had them destroyed. Donges and Chinigo then left RRDPS.
APD Officer Matt Griffin shot and killed Michael Howard, a resident of Cibola
Village Apts., when Howard caught Griffin
in the parking lot attempting to steal his car.
The “Ninja Bandit” robbed Sun County Savings a second time.
APD Officer Matt Griffin was revealed to be the “Ninja Bandit,” and was
arrested for five bank robberies and the slaying of Michael Howard.
KAITLYN ARQUETTE HOMICIDE (Albq. PD): Kaitlyn, 18, was chased down in her car and shot to
death.The first officer at the scene,
Det. Ronald Merriman, (see “Benny Esquivel Case” and “Curtis Lindsey Case”),
called in a report of an accident with no injuries.Police allowed Paul Apodaca, a man with a
record of violent assaults on women, who was at the scene when Merriman arrived,
to leave the scene without questioning or even getting contact
information.Police then left the scene
themselves.Rescue almost missed the
scene because there was no one there to wave them over – just Kaitlyn all alone
in her car with her brains blown out.Kaitlyn’s death was classified as a “random drive-by shooting,” despite
strong physical evidence that Kaitlyn was deliberately murdered and strong
indicators that she was preparing to blow the whistle on interstate crime that
involved her estranged Vietnamese boyfriend, Dung Nguyen, and his cohorts. The
activities of that group included car wreck insurance fraud, drug dealing,
arson, the theft and sale of computer chips, and illegal naturalization.When APD dropped off the unsolved case in
1991, Kaitlyn’s mother, Lois Duncan, wrote a book, Who Killed My Daughter?, to prevent the facts of the case from
becoming buried.The media blitz that
followed led to an influx of new information, which APD has declined to follow
up on because it doesn’t support their random shooting scenario.
12/89: Police Chief Sam Baca informed an INS agent that
Kaitlyn Arquette was killed by a Vietnamese gang.The homicide department then closed the
Arquette case as a random shooting by Hispanic subjects.DA Bob Schwartz refused to prosecute the
Hispanics due to a lack of evidence and because APD’s “eye-witness” was in jail
on the night of the murder.Schwartz
directed the police to investigate the Vietnamese suspects.The police did not do so.
Chief Sam Baca left APD, and was replaced by Chief Bob
10/5/90: APD Narcotics Det. Stan Gloria stated that he had knowledge of drug
activity at a particular address.He
applied for a warrant for a nighttime search of the residence of “Manuel (LAST
NAME UNKNOWN), Description: "Spanish" (sic) male, 40-45 years old,
medium height, heavy set,” claiming this man had a long criminal record,
although – not knowing the man’s name, DOB, or SS# -- there was no way Gloria
could have known about any criminal record
10/12/90: Armed with a
warrant obtained thru false information, Narcotics Detective Stan Gloria,
Lieutenant Hughes, SGT Bartram (sic- Bertram), Officers R. Vasquez, R. Jeffrey,
W. Jones, E. Sauer, B. Snow, A. Lehocky, Lieutanant Bourgoine, S. Gray, S.
Rodriguez, H. Terry, T. McWhorter, C. Lopez and four US NAVY SEALS went to the
home of Manuel Ramirez, at about 4:30 a.m.There they attached a cable to a tow truck and pulled the wrought iron
front door off the Ramirez residence, while other personnel simultaneously
broke all of the windows of the Ramirez home.As Ramirez reached for a handgun, (which wasn’t loaded), the collection
of officers entered unannounced and dressed in black and shot Ramirez twice in
the chest.They ransacked the family
home, while Ramirez lay dead in his living room and his grieving family sat in
the back of an APD Patrol Car.No drugs
were found in the residence until 48 hours after the break in.The Ramirez's infant was injured in his crib
by flying glass.Ramirez’s widow filed a
lawsuit against the City in 1992 and received a $275,000 settlement.
4/7/91: Albuquerque Journal: Bernalillo County Sheriff’s
deputy, Darryl Burt, recently named senior officer in the BCSO Gang Unit, was
accused of forcing a 24-yr-old, male, Mexican national to submit to forced sex
acts in a BCSO vehicle and threatening the victim with a gun.
APD Officers James Torres and Stan Gloria went into an apartment to sell 100
lbs. of marijuana for $60,000.They were
posing as drug dealers in order to take the money of real drug dealers.Torres went into the apartment alone and the
suspects pulled a gun on him and tied him up.A suspect then pulled a gun on Gloria, who was waiting in the parking
lot.Nearby police were alerted and came
to the rescue.The suspects were tried
and convicted.In 1997, Torres and
Gloria were awarded medals.
Albuquerque Tribune: Bernalillo
County District Attorney’s office investigated allegations made by a convicted
drug dealer that Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies provided drugs to
transvestite prostitutes in return for sexual favors.The drug dealer, serving a sentence in
federal prison, has a history of cooperating with law enforcement agencies.
9-10/91: LINK TO THE KAITLYN ARQUETTE HOMICIDE: An informant
told APD that the auto-body shop on Arno, (hangout for
APD Officer Matt Griffin and fellow officers), was a distribution point for
large amounts of cocaine.The informant
identified a subject, Maria Alcala, as making deliveries in a truck with an
unknown male, later identified as Michael Arellano, son of the owner of the
body shop.Alcala and Arellano were
surveilled to 824 ArnoNE,
as were Consuela Santillanes and Pedro Alcala Jr.Surveillance also noted a high level of
traffic in/out of the business within a short period of time, consistent with narcotics
10/3/91: LINK TO THE KAITLYN
ARQUETTE HOMICIDE: Execution of search warrant for cocaine trafficking were
executed at 824 Arno NE and 332 Estancia NW.Pedro
Alcala was arrested at 332 Estancia NW and later pled guilty.Michael Arellano (son of the owner of the
body shop) and Maria Alcala had apparently been alerted to the raid and left
the shop, heading to Nevada, just before APD, FBI, ATF
officers arrived to execute the search warrant.Cocaine, trafficking paraphernalia and money were seized at 332 Estancia
NW.Drugs and guns were seized at 824 Arno.
APD Officer Andrew Lehocky was sued for violating the civil rights of Kenneth
Wayne Tortolita. Although no further information regarding this case is
available, the case was settled for an undisclosed sum of money on 9/10/1992.
Albuquerque Journal: District Court
Judge ordered Bernalillo County Sheriff Ray Gallagher to keep members of his
Crime Suppression Unit away from witnesses in the sexual assault case against
BCSO Deputy Darryl Burt and asked prosecutors to prepare written court orders
to be served on Detectives Ed Pacheco and John Sharkey.Witnesses, Willie and Daniel Apodaca,
complained of witness intimidation. Sheriff Gallagher admitted to having
destroyed evidence in the case against Deputy Burt
APD Officer Andrew Lehocky was sued when his police dog attacked Sheldon
Waddles, a peaceful demonstrator at a rally (and the son of a local fire
chief). The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum of money.
Former APD Officer Robert Davis assisted murderer, Thomas Wayne Crump, to
escape from Torrance County Jail. Crump used a car owned by Davis’s
wife, in exchange for a promise that Crump would kill Davis’s
enemies on the outside.
1993: APD Officer Toby Gallegos was fired by Police Chief
Bob Stover for hitting a
car-chase suspect in
the back of the head with his nightstick. Gallegos said he didn’t remember
doing that, and the firing was rescinded in favor of a 60-day suspension.
5/28/93: SAL MARTINEZ
HOMICIDE (Albq. PD): Sal had to work late and arrived at a bachelor party close to .He was shot as soon as he walked in the
door.Sal was still alive when police
got there, but the officers would not perform CPR because they had forgotten
their plastic mouthpieces.Sal’s killer,
Darryl Fowler, fled the party, but later turned himself in on the advice of his
attorney, who assured him nothing would happen to him.The attorney was right.APD said they couldn’t charge Fowler because
he claimed self-defense, although Sal wasn’t carrying a weapon, nor was anyone
else at the party except Fowler.Informants told Sal’s mother that Fowler was a drug supplier for a VIP
in law enforcement and had many friends at APD.Since police refused to arrest Fowler, Sal’s parents sued him for
wrongful death.At the hearing, Fowler
admitted to shooting Sal, but said, “I didn’t know I killed him and I don’t
know where the gun is.”In 1999, Sal’s
parents were awarded a settlement, but the DA dismissed criminal charges. The
DA wouldn’t say why.The family says he
refused to talk to them at all.
NATHAN ROMERO HOMICIDE (Albq. PD): Nathan was chased down by three vehicles, stabbed,
and left to die in the street.He was
found with a Vietnamese medallion clutched in his hand, apparently snatched
from his killer during the struggle.APD
did not collect that evidence from the coroner, who gave it to Nathan’s mother,
Linda Gutierrez.Linda rounded up
witnesses to the stabbing, who identified members of the Asian gang that killed
Nathan.Police found a couple of the
gang members that same day, still wearing the same clothes from the night
before, but did not arrest them or process their clothing for DNA evidence.For two years, the killers taunted and
harassed Linda.They asked Nathan’s
friends, “Do you want to be killed next?” Linda kept calling APD to ask why
nothing was being done, until finally a homicide captain bellowed, “We know who
killed your son, just like we know who killed Kaitlyn Arquette!This is police business – butt out!”(See “Kaitlyn Arquette Case”)Linda made numerous calls to the mayor’s
office, which were not returned.Finally
an assistant agreed to deliver the message personally.The mayor then called Linda’s PI to ask how much
evidence Linda had.The PI responded
that she had enough to file a civil suit against the city of Albuquerque for wrongful death.Then wheels started turning.The case detective, (who was also the lead
detective in the Arquette case), was transferred out of the department.In 1995, the killers – Song Boutavong,
Anacheck Boutavong, Shervin Mowzoun and Michael Frias -- were arrested and
convicted.They were allowed to plea bargain.
APD Joseph Polisar, (supervisor of the APD Intelligence Unit when police burned
the controversial Intelligence Files), was appointed Police Chief.
Albuquerque Journal: City Counselor
M. Brasher requested a new investigation into a federal informant’s claim that
four APD narcotics detectives were involved in drug-trafficking, rape, planting
evidence and murder of a drug trafficker and prostitutes.The four were investigated in the fall of
1993 by APD Chief Bob Stover.
Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy Darryl Burt, who was acquitted in Nov. 1992
of sex related charges, was indicted on 34 counts of sexual assault and
extortion of a 16-yr-old boy over a number of months and a number of different
encounters.(These charges were
unrelated to the sex charges filed against him previously.)Burt was placed on unpaid leave from
BCSO.He later pled guilty to two
misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to 728 days in jail.
1995: APD Officer Toby Gallegos was fired by Chief Joseph
Polisar, who labeled him a “brutal cop” for hitting a suspect several times with
his large metal flashlight and kicking him in the groin.A city hearing officer ruled the firing
justified, but it was later overturned.Gallegos returned to work and collected $35,627 back wages from his
termination date to his reinstatement date.
Albuquerque Journal: APD LT. FACES PROBE: Lt. John
B. Gallegos, 14-yr veteran of APD and supervisor of Internal Affairs division,
faced criminal investigation for burglarizing a liquor store in May, 1995.He was on duty at the time of the burglary.
Albuquerque Journal: APD INVESTIGATES
SERGEANT’S ACTIONS - Internal Affairs investigated Sgt. Stan Gloria in
connection with a drug situation.Gloria, a former narcotics officer, was current supervisor of field
services on the West Side.
7/21/95: Albuquerque Journal: CITY TO PAY FIRED COP $450,000, BUT WON’T SAY
WHY-- A legal settlement by the City of Albuquerque awarded Bruce McAllister,
fired APD narcotics detective accused of robbing drug dealers and raping a
prostitute, $450,000.00.McAllister said
he was set up.
MELANIE MCCRACKEN HOMICIDE (NM State Police): Melanie died under strange circumstances in
her home in Bosque Farms.There was no
official determination of cause of death, although the OMI chief has opined it
was "violent assault." Melanie’s husband, NMSP Sgt. Mark McCracken,
(see “Stephanie Houston Case”), placed her in the family car, drove onto the
Isleta Indian Reservation, and ran the car into a tree.McCracken’s own department investigated the
case and announced that Melanie was killed in the car wreck.Sgt. McCracken told the media Melanie died of
cancer, although the autopsy revealed no cancer. APD Det. Damon Fay (see
“Stephen Haar Case”) threatened to have Melanie’s mother, Nancy Grice, arrested
for obstructing justice if she continued to question the circumstances of
Melanie’s death.In 1998 Nancy filed a federal civil
rights suit against McCracken and the State Police.Expert witness Dr. John Smialek opined that
the cause of death was “homicidal suffocation.” When it started to look like
the case would turn into a murder case, Nancy’s court appointed attorney
succumbed to pressure to settle out of court.NMSP promoted McCracken to lieutenant. In Oct. 2003, Lt. McCracken was
indicted for first degree murder and evidence tampering.Grand jurors also requested that another
grand jury be empanelled to review the conduct of the NMSP investigators. In
Dec. 2003, ValenciaCounty Magistrate John Sanchez, a
former State Police officer himself, filed a federal civil rights suit against
NMSP for harassment of him and his family in retaliation for his attempts to
persuade authorities to investigate McCracken.Oct. 31, 03, McCracken was indicted for first degree murder and evidence
tampering, but charges were dismissed because an investigator for the
prosecution was in the grand jury room during testimony.Dec 2004, Judge David Bonem ruled McCracken
would not have to stand trial.He stated
that, “while a violent and natural death cannot be excluded” there was not
enough evidence to try mcCracken.He
chastised the NMSP for not allowing an outside agency to do the investigation.
9/2/95: KRISTOPHER GRAY DEATH
(Navajo Tribal Criminal Investigators): Kris was found dead by a pump jack at
an oil well location on the south side of Farmington.Although police told Kris’s mother, Marie
Lope, that Kris was beaten to death and there were four vehicles at the scene,
they collected no evidence from the scene or from Kris’s vehicle, which was
hot-wired and driven to a different location.The night before Kris’s body was found, he attended a party on a bluff
on the Reservation.Witnesses told Marie
that Kris was trying to break up a fight and got killed in the process.Despite their initial statement that it was
murder, police closed the case as an accident.The OMI report speculates that Kris “accidentally fell from a
height.”The FBI contends that Kris
walked into a revolving pump jack, (although the pump jack was not in
operation).The embalmer informed Marie
that Kris had a fresh stab wound under his rib cage that had to be patched to
prevent leakage.The OMI report makes no
mention of that stab wound.
APD Lt. John B. Gallegos, supervisor of APD Internal Affairs Division, was
indicted on counts of commercial burglary, evidence tampering and larceny.APD said Gallegos was no longer with the
department but refused to say if he was fired or resigned.
TSOSIE SUSPICIOUS DEATH (Navajo Tribal Criminal Investigators): Tyrone was
found comatose on the side of the Frontage Road just off of I-40 fifteen miles
east of Gallup.His wallet was missing.He was flown to the UNMHospital in Albuquerque
where he was pronounced brain dead.Police told Tyrone’s mother, Bertha Begay, that her son “got tired and
lay down on the side of the side of the road and a car ran over him.”They said the car was so hot that his nylon
jacket melted onto his body.Bertha
obtained a copy of the autopsy report and discovered the cause of death was
“undetermined” and Tyrone’s only injury was a blunt force blow to the back of
the head.Tyrone’s family believes he
was killed during an argument with someone he knew and that family members of
the killer dumped his body.Police said
they were “too swamped” to investigate the case, so Bertha hired private
investigators.Tyrone’s wallet was
eventually found in the possession of his estranged girlfriend, Veronica
Scott.Bertha is a single parent of
four, and Tyrone’s medical and funeral bills drained her financially.She spent her weekends fund-raising at flea
markets in order to pay her private investigators.She couldn’t keep it up, and they dropped off
APD Officer Andres Lehocky was sued for allowing or ordering an attack dog to
bite and maul Isaac Ortiz. As with the two previous suits, this lawsuit was
settled for an undisclosed sum of money.
8/96: Former BCSO Deputies Darryl
Burt, (once an undercover narcotics agent) and Michael Disney were taken into
federal custody as the result of drug raids in their homes, after being
videotaped selling drugs in a parking lot across from EldoradoHigh School.Both men were
working at The Wild Side, Disney’s drug paraphernalia shop.At the time of the raid at Burt’s house, Burt
and a 17-yr-old male took off through the bedroom window, both wearing only
boxer shorts.A loaded 45-caliber
handgun, a Fix-A-Flat can filled with cocaine, and a BCSO badge and credentials
were among the items found in Burt’s garage.Both Burt and Disney later pled guilty to possession with intent to
distribute.The men were described as
partners in a heavily armed El Paso-to-Albuquerque drug trafficking
operation.Burt was sentenced to 2 years
and 9 months on a cocaine distribution conviction in US District Court.
Public Safety Advisory Board said it planned to find out if the Albuquerque
Police Department's SWAT Team had a pattern of using excessive force.
APD Officer Brad Ahrensfield stopped motorist Kevin Lamkin and informed him
there were warrants out for his arrest.Lamkin presented paperwork that proved the warrants had already been
cleared up, but Ahrensfield allegedly crumbled them up, resorted to
name-calling and abusive handling of Lamkin, and arrested him anyway.Lamkin’s case against Ahrensfield was settled
out of court for $2,000.
The City Council commissioned an independent study to be undertaken “in the
context of a serious and ongoing community crisis regarding the performance of
the APD, particularly with reference to the fatal shootings of citizens.”The report confirmed that "The City of
Albuquerque suffers from serious problems related to fatal shootings by APD
officers and extremely high tort claims involving police officers.” The study
also disclosed that the city set aside $4 million a year to settle claims
against APD, “which is way out of line with larger cities with larger forces.”
APD Chief Polisar disputed the 163 page report, but said he
did not read it all the way through.
5/25/97: APRIL MILLER DEATH (Albq.
PD): Nine years after the death of her sister, Spring, (see Spring Miller
Case”), April Miller vanished.April
last visited her mother, Dianna Miller, on May 15, upset and crying, because
her boyfriend had been arrested.April
called her mother twice during the following week, just to check in.In her second call, on May 23, she said she
was at the home of a friend named “Roland.”Dianna never heard from her again.On June 11, Dianna called APD to report April missing.Police took her information but did not
inform her that an anonymous caller had reported April dead in an alley behind
the parole office on May 25.APD Officer
Todd Babcock, who knew April from a recent encounter, had identified April at
the scene.April also had her name
tattooed on her neck.The tags on
April’s belongings bag and toxicology report all indicate that she was
immediately identified as April Miller. Yet, the police report listed April as
“Jane Doe,” and Dianna was not informed of her daughter’s death for six weeks.April reportedly died of a drug
overdose.There was no
investigation.The mysterious “Roland”
was not interrogated, although the tipster’s call to police was made from a gas
station a couple of blocks from Roland’s residence.
1997:BernalilloCounty Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph
Estrada was convicted of embezzlement for taking more than $730 worth of shirts
from Dillard’s Department Store where he was moonlighting as a security
6/14/97: The District Attorney’s office entered into the
investigation of APD Chief Joseph Polisar after a city worker, Victor Gallegos,
filed a criminal complaint that Polisar cursed at him and handcuffed him too
forcefully during a traffic stop.Chief
Polisar denied that accusation.
10/12/97: APD Officer Brad
Ahrensfield stopped at a scene where a vehicle was stopped on a median, used
pepper spray on the passenger, Steven Salazar, and allegedly kicked him in the
stomach when Salazar refused to lie on the ground.The incident was settled for $10,000.
APD Officer Brad Ahrensfield was one of several officers outside an Albuquerque
home during the arrest of Jim Vigin Jr.Virgin’s father protested the rough treatment of his son and decided to
get a video camera from inside the house.Ahrensfield allegedly tackled Vigil Sr. “with such force that he was
thrown into the bushes” and stepped on his hand and wrist, causing a wrist
fracture.The City settled the suit for
Albuquerque Journal: COP UNION
GIVES BACA WARNING -- Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Alex
Marentes said of new mayor Jim Baca, “If he screws with us, we will do
everything possible to defeat him in the next election.”
Incoming Bernalillo County DA Jeff Romero claimed his office was forced to drop
prosecutions because his predecessor, DA Bob Schwartz, never sent the cases for
indictment.Romero said about 200
outdated drug cases that should have been sent to the Grand Jury were found
“rat-holed” in Schwartz’s former office, a fact that almost caused the DA’s
office to lose a $200,000 federal grant for drug prosecutions. Schwartz denied
any knowledge of the stash of drug cases.
11/19/97: PAUL FITZJERRELL HOMICIDE, (Gallup PD):
Paul was shot and killed.Gallup
Police Officer Mike Brandau was indicted.The ranking officer at the scene, Calvin Wiggins, conducted both the
homicide investigation and the internal affairs investigation.When the case went to court, police mixed
information from Brandau’s Garrity-protected Internal Affairs statement in with
the case information, thereby contaminating the case and making it impossible
for Brandau to be prosecuted.Brandau
stated that the Fraternal Order of Police counsels all their members to insist
on Garrity whenever they are accused of crimes.“By doing so you will ensure that your statements and reports cannot be
used as evidence against you in any proceedings,” says the FOB guide
sheet.“Our advice is that we all use
the procedure all the time.”Special prosecutor, Bob
Schwartz, stated on television, “Because the police didn’t keep the Internal
Affairs investigation and the criminal investigation separate, this case is so
infected that you can never disinfect it.It may not be possible for this case to ever go forward again because of
the actions of the police department.”(Details about this case must be withheld at this time because the family
of the victim has launched a civil suit.)
APD Officer Brad Ahrensfield was alleged to have dragged a patron out of a
nightclub, used pepper spray on him, and shoved him to the ground with such
force that he shattered the man’s right wrist.The case was settled for $40,000.
Mayor Jim Baca announced his plan for a Citizens Review Board to investigate
complaints against the Albuquerque Police Department.“The police department has to be accountable
to somebody besides themselves,” Mayor Baca said.Alex Marentes, the police union president,
argued that citizen review boards were “ineffective” and could be
“bureaucratic, expensive and potentially controversial … Civilian investigators
may lack an understanding of police sub-cultural norms.”
1/10/98: JOSH VIHEL SUSPICIOUS DEATH (Albq. PD):
Josh, 16, died at a party.The official
cause of death was “alcohol poisoning,” but he also had a bruise on his
forehead, his nose was leaking blood, and money was missing from his
wallet.Josh’s body was removed from the
party house and taken to the apartment of one of the party guests, who didn’t
report the death until the next afternoon.The first officer at the scene called in a report of a “suspicious
death” and criminalistics was dispatched to the scene.An informant contacted the family with
information that GHB (date rape drug) was slipped into Josh’s drink.Since GHB leaves the victim’s system in
twelve hours, it would not show up in an autopsy.The family located the party house, which
police said they couldn’t find, and were told by neighbors that the adult males
who lived there, Chris and Scott Leonard, threw frequent parties where they
charged cover fees and sold liquor and drugs to minors.APD refused to interrogate the Leonard
brothers, explaining that the DA advised against it.Josh’s parents filed a civil suit against the
Leonards and insisted on taking the case to court in order to learn more about
what happened.In a deposition, Chris
Leonard stated that he had several friends and a cousin on the police
force.(For personal reasons, this
family does not wish to be interviewed.)
GABINO GEORGE VENEGAS HOMICIDE (NM State Police): Gabino was killed by a
hit-and-run driver while riding his bicycle home from work.Gabino’s parents, who lived out of state,
asked Gabino’s sister in Albuquerque
to keep them advised about the progress of the investigation.The NM State Police reacted with hostility to
the sister’s questions and attempted to intimidate her by accusing her of
interfering with the investigation.In
truth, there was no investigation.The
family’s PI discovered that three witnesses had seen two vehicles speeding from
the scene. Evidence indicated that the first vehicle struck Gabino on his
bicycle and knocked him into the path of the second vehicle.Witnesses identified the first car as a law
enforcement vehicle, possibly Sheriff’s Dept.The PI was able to match the paint transfer on the bicycle with the make
and year of the second vehicle and submitted a request for an MVD printout of
the owners of such cars in a two-county area.NMSP ordered MVD not to comply with that legal request.The family filed a tort claim notice against
NMSP, as they suspected investigators were covering up for a fellow cop.Police promised the family and their attorney
that, if they withdrew the tort claim notice, NMSP would thoroughly investigate
Gabino’s death.The family withdrew the
notice.The case was not further
investigated.The family’s PI believes
that he has now identified and located the car that killed Gabino, but the DA’s
office won’t agree to reopen the case.
1/15/98: STEPHEN HAAR HOMICIDE
(Albq. PD): Steve died from gunshot wounds to the stomach and back.Two guns were used.The OMI has stated that one shot was fired by
someone standing over him when he was already down.Police released a statement that Steve was
found dead in the street with a shotgun lying next to him.In truth, he was found inside the residence
of a man who is reportedly an APD snitch. Steve’s mother, Carmen Haar, found a
note in Steve’s pocket warning him about a contract and naming the alleged
snitch.In the course of an arrest by a ValenciaCounty detective for an unrelated
shooting, Travis Dally (a friend of the alleged snitch) confessed to killing
Steve.APD dismissed the shooting as
self-defense without even obtaining Dally’s taped confession from ValenciaCounty.APD homicide Det. Damon Fay (see “Melanie
McCracken Case”) told Carmen that APD would not charge Dally, but would forward
the case to the DA’s Office.In Sept.
02, Carmen contacted the DA’s Office to inquire why charges hadn’t yet been
filed.She was told the DA’s Office had
no file on Steve’s case.As of today,
Dally still has not been charged. Steve is the third of Carmen’s children to be
APD Officer Andrew LeHocky sicced his Belgian Malinois attack dog, Bart, on
Nestor Chavez, a fleeing suspect. After the dog bit Nestor Chavez once and
Lehocky had verified that Chavez was unarmed, Lehocky ordered Bart to attack a
second time causing serious damage to Chavez’s right lower leg. In the interim
mayor, Martin Chavez, declared that no police misconduct cases would settle.
The case went to trial and, on April
25, 2003, a jury in the federal court in Albuquerque
found Lehocky liable for violating Mr. Chavez’s Fourth Amendment rights and
awarded nominal damages. In Aug., 03, a federal judge overturned the jury verdict,
because Chavez had lied about being a suspect in a break-in earlier that
4/14/98: Incoming Albuquerque mayor, Jim Baca (the same
person who blew the whistle on the APD Intelligence Unit, see 5/10/87) replaced
APD Chief Polisar (former officer in charge of that Intelligence Unit) with
Gerald Galvin, police chief from Toledo, Ohio, in a reported effort to “clean
up the Albuquerque Police Department.”
4/23/98: Chief State District Judge John Brennan criticized
the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department for losing evidence in a
first-degree murder case, including the victim’s clothing and five bullets
pulled from his body.
Lawrence Candelaria, Identification Tech at APD, (processes fingerprints and
takes mug shots), was charged with intent to distribute narcotics.Earlier in the year, Candelaria compromised
an arrest warrant when he warned the target, his brother Leonard, that police
were about to search his home. When a second warrant was served, police found
heroin packaged for distribution.Lawrence Candelaria was arrested for conspiracy to traffic in heroin;
Leonard Candelaria was booked for possession of heroin.
Albuquerque Journal: THE CITIZENS OF
ALBUQUERQUE ARE AFRAID OF THEIR COPS --That was the message the City Council heard during a special meeting to
get public input on a recently completed study of who should police the
Albuquerque Police Department… Paul
Harper, co-director of Albuquerque Citizens on Police Accountability, said APD
has proven cops can’t police themselves.“It’s like having the fox guard the hen house” said Harper, whose son
Larry was killed by police officers.
6/25/98: Katherine Teupell was awarded a $235,000
settlement for claims against the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department and
the Albuquerque Police Department for their use of a “We don’t do blue” policy
in dealing with an officer accused of beating his wife. Teupell alleged police
extended “professional courtesy” to her husband, Scott Finley, a member of the
Sheriff Department’s elite Crime Suppression Unit. Teupell testified she fled
from her home with her children, 6 and 2, still in pajamas, on the night of Oct. 18, 1993, after
Finley beat her. Teupell said that when she threatened to call police, Finley
responded, “Go ahead and call. How can you break the law when you are
the law?"Although the APD officer
who responded to the call confiscated Finley's police revolver, other officers
who took over at the scene returned it.
APD Officer Brad Ahrensfield was alleged to have punched motorist Kippy Rhoten
in the face five times after pulling him over to tell him to turn his car
Metro Court judge ruled Ahrensfield innocent, but
the City Attorney’s office ended up paying a settlement of $20,000
TERESA REYES, MISSING AND PRESUMED DEAD (Albq. PD): Teresa, 17, disappeared
from the family home during the night.Police dubbed her a run-away, despite the fact that she took nothing
with her, not even her wallet or crucially important medications.Since APD refused to investigate, Teresa’s
mother, also named Teresa Reyes, sought help from other sources – ID Resource
Center, Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Mayor’s Office, and the
FBI.Those agencies would contact APD,
who would assure them Teresa was a runaway and would come home when she was
ready.In 2002, a PI received
information that, on the night Teresa vanished, she met three strange men in a
parking lot, who invited her to a party.Teresa wrote their phone number on a paper napkin with her lipstick.
Teresa’s parents believe that Teresa sneaked out later to attend the party and
met with foul play. Soon after that, Mrs. Reyes was mending a hole in Teresa’s
favorite stuffed doll and found the napkin with the phone number hidden in the
doll. The number was unlisted and no longer in service.The APD Missing Persons Dept. told Mrs. Reyes
to have her PI fax all the case information to an APD detective. The PI did so,
but nobody responded.Mrs. Reyes wrote
to the police chief, begging his assistance.He didn’t respond.She, then,
appealed to the Police Oversight Commission, and the police finally came to
pick up the napkin.Three more years
have now passed.Mrs. Reyes says, “Every
time the phone rings my heart starts to pound, and I tell myself, ‘Maybe the
police have been able to trace that phone number!’But it’s never the police.I don’t think they remember who we are.”
The City of Rio Rancho settled with
Bob and Frances James for an undisclosed amount after four police officers shot
their son David to death as he stood on his parents’ front porch.Officers said they believed David was
brandishing a gun.In truth he was
holding a ceramic cross.
family of Larry Harper was awarded a $200,000 settlement in a federal lawsuit
claiming excessive force by police after family members called police to the
Elena Gallegos picnic area for aid in subduing Harper, who was threatening to
kill himself. After assuring the family that they were there only to talk to
Harper, the APD SWAT-team shot Harper to death.“They told us the officers were only carrying ‘non-lethal rounds,’” said
Larry’s brother, James Harper.
9/98: Albuquerque Tribune: The newly formed Police Oversight Commission is
unable to function because of lack of cooperation from the Albuquerque Police
Department.Although citizens have the
right to appeal to the commission, which can offer its recommendations to the
police chief, the chief does not have to act on those recommendations.Chief Galvin has never once gone along with a
commission recommendation for increased discipline of an officer, and no
officer named in a citizen complaint has ever shown up for a hearing.“We’ve been stonewalled,” the commission
chairman told the media.
Albuquerque Journal: Former BCSO
deputy Darryl Burt, now a federal inmate, has instigated a civil rights suit
against the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department claiming he is owed back pay
and benefits denied him after he was charged with 34 counts of sexual assault
and extortion of a 16-yr-old boy.In
7/99 a federal judge dismissed the suit.
Albuquerque Police Detective Cisco Martinez was accused of entrapment for
hiring two girls from an escort service to come to his motel room and dance
nude, which is not illegal.However, he
then attempted get the women to touch his genital area and to allow him to
fondle them.When they refused, stating
that this would be illegal, he had them busted for prostitution anyway.The women were found innocent in court.
12/13/98: RAMONA DURAN SUSPICIOUS
DEATH (Albq. PD) – Ramona was found dead of a drug overdose in the apartment of
Thomas Green and Ricky Pike.The men
told police the three had drunk beer and smoked crack all night.Yet an autopsy revealed no alcohol in
Ramona’s system.The first officer at
the scene reported a strong odor of gas and advised his sergeant it was a
suspicious death.Two officers reported
bruises on Ramona’s arms above the elbows, and a neighbor reported hearing a
woman screaming.Ramona’s sister, Valerie
Duran, believes Ramona was sedated with gas and forcibly injected with a lethal
drug overdose.She confirms that Ramona
once had a drug problem, but says she had turned her life around.At the time of her death Ramona was on
supervised probation and enrolled in an out patient substance abuse program
with regular testing.Her probation
officer has stated that Ramona remained clean.Ramona had told family members that she feared for her life because she
had fingered certain VIPs in the drug trade and police had leaked information
that she was a snitch.Police will not
allow Ramona’s family to view the scene photos or to speak with the officers at
the scene or to the men in whose apartment Ramona died.
12/27/98: JOHN SHERMAN SUSPICIOUS
DEATH (SandovalCounty Sheriff’s Dept.): John was
found in Rio Rancho, slashed and stabbed to death in the front seat of his
van.Members of the SandovalCounty Sheriff’s Department
transferred John’s body to the back of the van before taking crime scene photos
and insist his death was a suicide, despite the finding of “homicide” by the
former head of forensics at the Menninger clinic, who stated, “This wasn’t just
murder – this was over-kill!” When John’s mother sought to have the case
reopened she was informed that John’s case file had been destroyed.
APD Officer Andrew Lehocky released his police dog, Bart, on an unarmed
teenager, Moriah Smith, who was hiding in a school yard after a boy she met at
a party fired a gun and frightened her. Bart was supposedly sent in to locate
Moriah and “guard and bark” to let Officers know where she was hiding. Instead,
Bart ran into the schoolyard, located Moriah and immediately attacked her. Bart
never bothered—or was ordered not—to bark. The attack left Moriah with four
deep wounds that required three surgeries and a skin graft. Lehocky stated his
supervisor, Sgt. Tom Garduno, told him, "Good job. I'm glad nobody
died." A federal jury subsequently found Lehocky liable for the Moriah
Smith attack. Lehocky was ordered to pay the $50,000 necessary to partially
remove scars. Lehocky contended that Moriah must be a “bad” girl because his
dog, Bart, would only bite “bad” people.
4/3/99: Albuquerque Journal: Former Sheriff’s Deputy,
Michael Lee Disney, appeared before a US Magistrate on charges that he
threatened DEA Agent Mike Marshall because of Marshall’s
testimony against him.
4/15/99: STEPHANE MURPHEY HOMICIDE:
Stephane was raped and strangled to death in her home in Rio Rancho. Her decomposed body
was found four days later in her car, which was parked at an apartment complex
in Albuquerque.APD and the
Rio Rancho DPS were in conflict
over who had jurisdiction.Eventually
the Rio Rancho DPS claimed the
case, despite the fact that they had no homicide department.It was only after years of relentless
pressure by Stephane's family that RRDPS replaced the case investigator with
one who was willing to submit the DNA evidence for testing.As a direct result of that testing, David F.
Bologh was arrested and arraigned.Bond has
been set at $1 million.(The family does
not wish to be interviewed until after the trial.)
7/99: Albuquerque Journal - APD MODIFIES USE OF RUSE OPERATIONS – The APD SWAT-team
had an officer pose as a burglar holed up in a car near the home of a murder
suspect (a 12-year-old girl, Jade Gonzales, who had shot her father and claimed
it was an accident). The SWAT team used the ruse of the fictional burglar to
evacuate residents and secretly place an electronic eavesdropping device inside
the Gonzales home.APD Chief Galvin said
no officers were disciplined over the Jade Gonzales incident because they were
following the department's standard operating procedures, but promised those
procedures would be changed.Det. Steve
Hall, one of the officers involved in that ruse, was named “Officer of the
Children’s Court Judge Tommy Jewell
sharply criticized APD for stripping the 12-yr-old of her basic rights.Jewell found that the detectives didn't
advise Jade of any rights, before or after they interrogated her without her
mother or attorney present.Jewell wrote
that Jade was the victim of "shocking, outrageous, and clearly
intolerable" violations of her rights.
FormerBernalilloCounty Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph
Estrada was convicted of retaliating against a witness who testified against
him in 1997, when he was convicted of embezzlement.
Tribune: Retired APD Officer Philip
Otero was arrested for impersonating an on-duty officer, stealing a motorist's
money, and trying to bilk a 76-yr-old woman out of $2,000 casino earnings by
going to her door and telling her to hand over the money because it might be
11/20/99: Albuquerque Tribune: A boot mark across the bridge of her
boyfriend’s nose, due to a beating by Albuquerque Police Officers, caused Diane
Holquist to call a special meeting of the Police Oversight Commission.Holquist charged excessive brutality that
went unpunished when the officers were cleared by a police internal affairs
investigation.Holquist attempted to
enlist the help of the Commission to mandate that all officers involved in
internal affairs complaints take lie detector tests.“It is the last chance for citizens to be
assured of credibility from the police force,” she said.Holquist had gathered over 1,000 signatures
on a petition seeking mandatory lie detector tests. The Police Oversight
Commission did not have the power to help her in this matter.
12/7/99: BENEDICT ESQUIVEL HOMICIDE
(Albq. PD): Benny, 14, was the victim of a gang-related shooting in 1992.He was shot in the neck and survived seven
and a half years as a quadriplegic before he died of complications from
respirator use.Benny’s father, Juan
Esquivel, says two girls came to the hospital immediately after the shooting
and told him the names of the killers and the motel where they were holed
up.Juan gave that information to Det.
Ronald Merriman, (see “Kaitlyn Arquette Case” and “Curtis Lindsey Case), who
told Juan he hand-delivered the information to the APD Gang Squad.No investigation was done, and police now
claim they never received the information.After Benny died, police told reporters they would reopen the case as a
homicide and start tracking down witnesses.They now claim that the case is too old to investigate.
2/27/00: STEPHANIE HOUSTON HOMICIDE
(NM State Police): Stephanie died when her jealous and abusive boyfriend,
Patrick Murillo, ran her over with his truck after he saw her dancing with
another man.OMI urged that the death be
investigated as a homicide. Within days, scene investigator, Mark McCracken,
(see “Melanie McCracken Case”), was telling the media that NMSP had fully
investigated the case and Stephanie caused her own death because she was
falling-down drunk. In truth, they had questioned no witnesses, done no
reconstruction, and the toxicology test showed Stephanie had consumed about one
beer.Stephanie’s father, Bill Houston,
conducted his own investigation, questioning witnesses and accumulating
information.In July 2002, Bill was
charged with stalking because of his efforts to acquire information about
Murillo.In May 2003, an investigative
reporter exposed NMSP’s mishandling of the case, accusing them of glossing over
possible domestic violence and failing to follow fundamental investigative techniques
including never conducting an accident reconstruction.The case was then reopened and in Dec. 2003,
Murillo was indicted for vehicular homicide
APD Officer Andrew Lehocky was sent with other officers to respond to a call
that resident Jimmy Castillo had threatened to commit suicide. As Mr. Castillo
walked from his residence, unarmed, on the order of the police (who had
promised him that his pastor was outside waiting for him), Lehocky unleashed
his attack dog, Bart, and issued the “fass” (attack command). The attack
resulted in serious bites on Mr. Castillo’s ankles, thighs, and calves.
4/23/00: APD Officer Tom Benard
committed “aggravated battery with a deadly weapon” by beating a handcuffed
homicide suspect with a metal baton.(It
was later confirmed that the suspect was the wrong person.)The suspect sustained head injuries.A police belt tape recorded Benard telling a
colleague, “I popped him one good in the head for you.” An Internal Affairs
Investigation found sufficient evidence to support allegations of excessive
APD Officer Andrew Lehocky burst into a private residence, with no search
warrant, because a “meth” lab was supposedly inside. His attack dog, “Bart,”
was then sent in and attacked Maureen Patterson-Montgomery, while she was
sitting in her bathtub, terrified.
APD Officer Andrew Lehocky intercepted a call for a routine officer response to
a reported neighbor disturbance. Arriving on the scene, Lehocky believed that
one neighbor, David Chamberlain, threw some garbage at him. Lehocky responded
by ordering his dog, Bart, to attack. Bart, however, refused to attack and maul
the unresisting man. Lehocky then pulled Mr. Chamberlin out of a parked car,
slammed him on the ground, picked Bart up, placed Bart with his muzzle to
Chamberlin’s legs and, again, ordered Bart to attack. Bart attacked while
Lehocky began dragging Chamberlain on the ground. Mr. Chamberlin received
serious injury to his legs, back, and stomach.
6/1/00: Albuquerque Journal: JUDGE REFUSES TO
QUASH EX-APD SGT’S SUIT AGAINST CITY-- A federal judge rejected a request to
throw out a 1999 lawsuit alleging APD retaliated against former police sergeant
David Guzman for speaking out against alleged discrimination and misconduct.Guzman, who took early retirement after 22
years with APD, mostly with a unit dealing with drug interdiction, alleged he
was passed over six times for promotion to lieutenant and transferred to a
section consisting of street-level detectives because he was an outspoken member
of two unions representing Hispanic officers and because he complained about
alleged police misconduct.The lawsuit
said Guzman told supervisors about an APD captain involved in a domestic
dispute involving a gun.He said, during
that investigation, he found 58 phone calls made from the captain's home to a
known drug dealer and that officers severely beat up a drug informant.
7/9/00: Albuquerque Journal: APD Officer Robert
Middleton chased pedestrian, William Lancaster, 18, and ran over him with his
police car, causing numerous broken bones and brain damage.Lancaster
was suspected of planning to shoplift a six-pack of beer.
APD Officer Andrew LeHocky sicced his 80-pound attack dog, Bart, on Eddie Mae
Patterson, an unarmed homeless woman who was asleep at the time. Another city
officer allegedly slapped the wounded Patterson, who is black, and used ethnic
slurs against her while she was in an ambulance on her way to the hospital.
Patterson was left strapped to a gurney for seven hours and wasn’t allowed
proper follow-up medical care for the deep gash on her arm after she was booked
LeHocky and Bart had recently been recognized with an "Officer of the
Month" award. This case was settled for $210,000.00
4/15/01: CRYSTAL HOUSTON HOMICIDE (Socorro PD): Crystal
was found dead in her home, severely beaten with blunt force injuries to her
legs, arms, neck and head, just 14 months after the death of her sister,
Stephanie (see “Stephanie Houston Case.”)Crystal’s blouse was pulled up over her head, her bra had been torn off
and her pants were pulled down around her ankles.The OMI listed the cause of death as
undetermined because Crystal also
had some drugs and alcohol in her system.A prison escapee, who had been in Crystal's home on the night of her
death, was found in another city with Crystal's car after trying to cash
Crystal's checks, but police said that without a definitive cause of death they
could not arrest him.It took until June
2003 and extensive pressure from the media for the state lab to ship DNA
evidence that had been submitted to the state crime lab at the time of her
death to a lab in California to be processed.Final DNA results are still pending, though preliminary tests match the
prison escapee.A special prosecutor has
finally been appointed after the Socorro District Attorney refused to
4/17/01: Deputy Chief Ray Schultz
announced that eight to ten APD officers faced punishment for a 1999 plot to
illegally steal premium satellite television service by downloading computer
software that allowed them to reprogram subscription cards.Schultz stated that none of the officers
would be dismissed, but would be “reminded that they shouldn’t do things like
6/6/01: BernalilloCounty sheriff’s deputy Tom Lujan
and other unnamed deputies, seized and arrested Michael Bradford, 16, as he and
his sister Robin, 15, waited for their mother to pick them up after a
concert.There had been fights at the
concert, but the Bradford children were not
involved.Deputies arrested and
handcuffed Michael, threw him onto the hood of a squad car, kneed him in the
groin, knocked him to the ground and kicked and beat him until he lost
consciousness. They grabbed Robin, tore her shirt off, and called her a
“whore.” A civil rights suit contended the assault occurred "because
Michael was a young black man close enough for officers to grab."The charges against Michael were later
civil suits claiming excessive use of force, false arrest, malicious
prosecution and negligence were settled out for $45,000.
Albuquerque Journal:Former APD Officer Matt Griffin, serving a
life sentence in NM State Prison, attacked a guard with a home-made knife.Griffin
had at least two dozen other serious misconduct reports involving property
damage and attacks on inmates and officers."He's a repetitive security challenge for this facility," said
prison spokesperson, Gerges Scott.
8/29/01: APD Sgt. Mike Garcia,
supervisor of officers assigned to public schools, was indicted on sex charges
involving a 12-yr-old girl who was staying the night with one of Garcia’s
daughters.(When he was tried in 2004,
the jury was deadlocked, and the prosecutors did seek a retrial.)
8/31/01: APD Officer Cliff Saylor
loosed his Belgian Malinois attack dog, Buddy, on Billy Booker and Pauline
Extrada, a homeless couple who were sleeping on the porch of a downtown
building.The Citytried to settle the case with the victims at ,
three hours after the attack, while the two were at a hospital on pain
medication, thus violating a state law that prohibits immediate settlements
while a person is hospitalized.Booker
couldn’t even read the paperwork he was asked to sign because he is illiterate.
police officer, Tom Sholtis, encountered Deena Tanberg, (the wife of an
Albuquerque FBI agent), chatting with a woman friend in a public park after
hours.Sholtis ordered the two women to
come toward him, and when they didn’t instantly comply, Sholtis“violently slammed Deena Tanberg to the
ground, fracturing her arm and causing her ligament damage.” The audiotape from
Officer Sholtis’s belt-mounted recorder reflects that he grabbed Deena and
broke her arm within 20 seconds of first encountering her, before she had even
determined that Sholtis was, indeed, a law enforcement officer.
police officers from the Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety were
investigated for Cable theft after a citywide sting. All three investigations
were dropped. One officer, Scott Kellogg, was promoted to lieutenant.
Albuquerque Journal: Department of
Justice auditors are questioning how the Albuquerque Police Department spent up
to $1.5 million in grant money that was supposed to be used to hire officers.
Albuquerque Journal: The Police
Oversight Commission announced that the Albuquerque Police Department has
installed an "early warning system" that will identify officers whose
behavior or performance may be slipping.The first report indicated that 10 officers and two sergeants should be
evaluated.The combined records for the
dozen officers identified included 62 uses of force, four lawsuits filed, and
nine internal investigations.
Albuquerque Journal: APD MISTREATED
MENTALLY DISABLED MAN - The sister of Fred Hildebrandt, a mentally retarded
man, is suing Albuquerque police
for leaving her brother shackled for almost five hours at his home. The
Albuquerque Police Department said they hasn't reviewed the July 16 shackling
incident so could not comment.
12/01: Albuquerque Journal: The Albuquerque Police Department admitted to the
incoming mayor, MartinChavez, that they
may have gone nearly $6 million over budget this year.
2/7/02: Albuquerque Journal: The budget
shortfall that forced city officials to consider layoffs and spending cuts grew
by another $1 million as the Albuquerque Police Department found yet another $1
million in over-spending.
Tribune: Two APD officers shot Leon Casey Arthur to death outside a motel
when he allegedly make a “threatening approach,” brandishing what officers say
they thought was a weapon.The item in
Arthur’s hand was a hairbrush.
2/02: Officer Aaron Julian, Rio Rancho Dept. of Public
Safety, was indicted for five felony counts of child abuse. The DA failed to
send a Grand Jury Target letter so all charges were dropped. Aaron Julian's
wife was then arrested and charged with the five felony counts.
4/7/02: APD Officer Craig O'Neil,
a seven-year veteran who worked as a field investigator, was booked into the BernalilloDetentionCenter on charges of aggravated
assault with a firearm and false imprisonment.
Journal: Within minutes of initiating a chase of a man suspected of
criminal trespass, an unidentified APD officer had the suspect face down and
limp, kicking him so many times that a bystander stepped in to stop him.When the officer dragged the suspect backward
by the handcuffs, the bystander intervened again, trying to help the man get up
and walk.The bystander, who didn't know
the suspect, repeatedly asked for the officer's badge number. But the officer
wouldn't respond. This same officer was the recipient of three other complaints
in two years — improperly macing and punching a suspect; swerving in and out of
traffic; and improperly shooting a Rottweiler. He wasn't found to be at fault
in any of the cases.
5/23/02: During an arrest by APD, Detective Gerald Hicks
observed a bystander taking notes.Hicks
asked to see the notes, and the bystander, David Shaw, stated they were
personal notes and were none of the detective’s business.Hicks responded by grabbing Shaw in a
chokehold and throwing him to the ground, confiscated the notes, and filed a
criminal complaint against Shaw for refusing to obey him.
Albuquerque Journal: APD DOG BITES
COST CITY MORE THAN $940,000: The city of Albuquerque,
over the past decade, has paid more than $725,000 to settle APD dog-bite
claims. Meanwhile, private lawyers defending K-9 officers in ongoing lawsuits
have billed the city another $217,000 in fees and costs over the past two
years.Police dogs have bitten dozens of
citizens who were neither armed nor violent. In some cases, police gave no
verbal warning a dog would be unleashed. Officers in several cases allowed
their dogs to continue biting suspects after the initial apprehension. In one
case, an unarmed suspect was ordered to walk toward a police officer with the
police dog still clenching her buttock.
Journal: The city-county jail paid former inmate, Vincent Cordova, a
$25,000 settlement for injuries sustained in fights between inmates,
orchestrated by corrections officers, who arranged the fights and cheered and
made bets on the results.
TROY PINO SUSPICIOUS DEATH (Santa
Rosa PD): Troy
died four days after a brutal assault by his girlfriend’s ex-husband, Edward
Lucero.Witnesses reported that the
260-pound Lucero knocked Troy to
the floor, beat him with his fists and kicked him repeatedly with steel-tipped
shoes.The first officer at the scene
was Lucero’s nephew, Officer Justin Anaya.The second to arrive was Officer Anthony Ortega.Neither officer was certified.Although Troy
was calling out for help, the officers made no attempt to stop the
assault.Instead, Officer Anaya, sprayed
him in the face with mace. The supervising officer, Officer Joe E. Martinez,
who arrived slightly after that, was Lucero’s best friend.He terminated the assault by physically
restraining Lucero.No arrests were made
and no charges filed.No medical
attention was sought for Troy.Although there were seven other witnesses,
police made no mention of Lucero’s assault in their reports. The following day,
Officer Martinez forced Troy out of
his girlfriend's car as they prepared to drive to Las
Vegas, New Mexico. Martinez
followed Troy for several hours.
went to a friend's house where he fell ill from the beating and was transported
to the hospital in Santa Rosa. He
was airlifted to UNMH where he died.
7/02. Rio Rancho Observer: SandovalCounty Sheriff Deputy Pete Montoya
was indicted on 18 counts of criminal sexual contact with a 5-yr-old
child.(Montoya was the lead detective
in the John Sherman case, 12/27/98.)
RUSSELL CAGE SUSPICIOUS DEATH (Bloomfield
PD and Farmington PD): Russell died
of a gunshot wound to the head outside the trailer home of his girlfriend,
Sylvia Anaya.Police closed the case as
a suicide with no investigation and without even seeing the autopsy report.The gun, which was not Russell’s, was not
identified or processed for prints.The
sizes of the head wounds indicate that the entry wound was most likely on the
left side of Russell’s head.Russell was
right handed.According to police, the
bullet passed through Russell’s head, made an 86-degree turn, and continued on
through the wall of the trailer, striking the headboard of Sylvia’s bed and
dropping to the carpet.Russell stood
5’10” and the bullet hole in the trailer is less that 4’ from the ground.Sylvia’s brother, Isaac Anaya, is linked to
the Eastside Brown Pride Gang. Russell had been telling people that members of
that gang were involved in the beating and shooting death of a man named
Dominic Martinez.Russell even claimed
that the weapons had been hidden in Sylvia’s trailer home. Three weeks prior to
Russell’s death, Russell was in a fight with a member of the Brown Pride Gang
who threatened to kill him.One gang
member reportedly has brothers on both the Bloomfield
Police Force and the San Juan Sheriff’s Dept.
Karen Yontz was chased down in her car and shot to death by two Albuquerque
Police Officers who suspected her of robbing a bank. Yontz was a longtime
criminal investigator with both the Attorney General's Office and the District
Attorney's Office in Santa Fe and a
sheriff's deputy.At the time of her
death, Yontz was building a case against Municipal Judge Charles Maestas, who
was facing 28 criminal charges of trading judicial favors for sex with women
who appeared before his court.She was
also investigating the Russell Cage case (see above).
APD Officer Bryan Killinger was fined $15,000 for unlawful detention and
excessive force against a bicyclist, Jackie Shane.Killinger did a U-turn in front of Shane,
almost causing an accident.When she
called out to him to use a turn signal, he grabbed her by the head and pulled
her off her bike, throwing it to the ground and stomping on the rear wheel.He, then, hit her, handcuffed her, and threatened
to file false charges against her.
Albq. Journal: APD Officer Duane
Currell was indicted on charges he coerced a woman into exposing herself and
then grabbed her during a traffic stop.
deputies were called to the home of police-watchdog activist Gilbert Elizondo
and his wife after the death of his wife’s mother, who died of natural
causes.Sgt. Natalie Jasler tried to
prevent Mrs. Elizondo from viewing her mother's body, and when Elizondo stepped
in to block a blow by Jasler to his wife, Jazler slapped and kicked the
couple.Elizondo was then arrested on a
charge of aggravated assault on a peace officer.Jasler kneed Elizondo in the groin several
times while he was handcuffed and other deputies held him. Jasler’s charges
against Elizondo were later dropped
Albq. Journal: APD Officer
Christopher Chase was indicted on 32 counts of using his official vehicle to
stop motorists for sex.Charges include
felony counts of kidnapping, tampering with evidence, aggravated assault, false
imprisonment, criminal sexual penetration of alleged victims of both sexes
including minors and eight petty misdemeanor counts of battery.The indictment suggests Chase took care to
avoid apprehension, in one instance forcing the victim to wash her hands of
evidence with a sanitizer.
Albq. Journal: The Police Oversight
Commission discovers that APD Chief Gil Gallegos overstepped his authority by
arbitrarily reversing the commission’s findings in two police-shooting cases,
exonerating the officers and classifying the shootings as justified.Gallegos said in commission documents that
the case files were his and he could change the findings at any time.
8/03: APD has
agreed to investigate its evidence unit in regard to the auctioning off of
evidence and money missing from the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department. An
informant has made claims that evidence has been destroyed and that "APD
management has helped to cover up the crimes."
police and Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputies chased Toni Osborn, a 5-foot
tall, 50-year-old activist, who had been circulating a petition seeking the
removal of the mayor.They pinned her
vehicle against an embankment, sprayed her with Mace, and sicced a police dog
on her. The dog pulled Osborn half out of her vehicle and, once she was on the
ground, remained locked on her arm while she was handcuffed before being taken
to the hospital. "They (the police and dog) practically took her left arm
off. They beat her. Her face is swollen to twice its size," said her
husband, Loyd Osborn.”Police explained
they’d been told that Osborn was “armed and dangerous.” Osborn, who was not
armed, underwent two surgeries to save her arm.
Albq. Journal: NM State Police
Officer Tomas Maes, shot a neighbor child’s Golden Retriever puppy in the face
with a 45-caliber handgun, because it wandered into his yard after the
neighbor, Vanessa Salizar, 12, accidentally left a gate open. Officer Maes
explained he was concerned about the safety of his son who was playing next
door at his parents' home. The State Police exonerated Maes of any wrongdoing.
The dog survived the shooting but a few days later was poisoned.
New Mexico State Police Lt. Mark McCracken was indicted for the “willful,
premeditated and deliberate” first degree murder of his wife, Melanie
McCracken, and for evidence tampering.(See 8/5/95.) In
addition, grand jurors requested that another grand jury be empanelled to
"review the conduct" of the State Police in the inquiry.
MOLDOV-TAYLOR RAPE AND HOMICIDE: Harriet, a disabled woman who lived alone, was
found unconscious, in a diabetic coma, and bleeding from her mouth and rectum
in her apartment.She died three days later.The OMI report described deep vaginal tears
and ruled the cause of death strokes and blood loss caused by a violent sexual
attack.APD refused to accept the
possibility that anyone would enjoy raping a woman who was disabled and
overweight and insisted Harriet’s injuries had to be self-inflicted.They have threatened to file a complaint
against the first doctor who examined Harriet and are trying to convince the
Medical Examiner to change her report to mesh with their own speculations.
Former NM Sheriff’s deputy James Trujillo was accused of robbing a woman at
gunpoint in front of a Los Lunas bank and taking $20,000.
Journal-- Valencia County Magistrate John Sanchez, a former State Police
officer himself, filed a federal civil rights suit against the New Mexico State
Police for harassment of him and his family in retaliation for his attempts to
persuade authorities to investigate NMSP Lt. Mark McCracken. (See 10/31/03).
Albq. Journal: Money, jewelry, gold
coins, guns, and other items of value are alleged to be missing from the APD
Evidence Unit.Chief Gallegos states
this could be “anything from theft to poor record keeping.” The issue is
classified as “an internal personnel matter.” No employees in the evidence unit
had been disciplined or fired.
4/03: Defense attorney Ray Twohig sends a letter to the
Attorney General’s Officerequesting
they investigate $7,000 in gold coins missing from the APD evidence room.He receives no response.
The Holguin family was terrorized
by APD officers who stormed the house, guns blazing; blasted the door off its
hinges; pelted the home with flash-gun grenades, and handcuffed all five family
members.The officers, led by Capt.
Robbin Burge, knocked the 80-yr-old grandmother, Carmen Holguin, to the floor
and injured her so severely she had to be rushed to the hospital.They, then, swigged drinks from the
refrigerator, threw the search warrant on the floor, and left.The Holguins had no criminal history and were
never charged with anything.Police had
stormed the wrong house.In 2002, Capt.
Burge was named APD’s Plain Clothes Officer of the Year.
8/03: Defense attorney Ray Twohig again sends a letter to
the Attorney General’s Office requesting they investigate $7,000 in gold coins
missing from the evidence room.He again
receives no response.
A routine inspection of the evidence unit flags concerns
over evidence that was mishandled at a police auction.APD Chief Gallegos orders an internal audit
to investigate possible problems.
Nick Bakas, Albq.'s chief public safety officer, tells the press he has no
knowledge of any internal audit of the APD evidence unit.However, APD ChiefGallegos confirms that there is such an
audit. "We're looking at potential Standard Operating Procedure
violations," he tells the media. That could mean anything from theft to
1/04: APD removes two employees from the evidence unit,
after money is found missing.They are
reassigned to a different division of APD.
1/9/04: Albq. Journal--The Police Oversight
Commission found APD Officer Jay Rowland guilty of using unreasonable force
during an unwarranted attack on Lane Leckman during an anti-war demonstration
on March 20, 2003.
Albq. Tribune:DEATH CASES ANGER
KIN: VICTIMS’ FAMILIES UNITE, SEEK GREATER ACCOUNTABILITY IN
INVESTIGATIONS:Families of 24 NM
homicide victims are fed up with law enforcement agencies they say have botched
or covered up investigations, allowing dozens of killers to go free.Today they are also fed up with keeping
silent.“Our family is one of many in the Land of Enchantment who are forced to
battle the very system that is supposedly here to protect and serve us in order
to obtain justice for our murdered loved ones,” said Gabino Venegas Jr., whose
son was killed in a 1998 hit-and-run crash that a private investigator claims
was caused by a sheriff’s vehicle.Family members are uniting under the name New Mexico Justice Project to
demand better accountability from law enforcement agencies.The agencies include the Albq. PD, Rio Rancho
Department of Public Safety, NM State Police, Sandoval Co. Sheriff’s Dept,and the police departments of Socorro,Gallup, Santa Rosa, Bloomfield, Farmington
and the Navajo Tribal Criminal Investigators.
2/04, Albq. Journal:
Chris Jones sues APD to get back $10,000 cops seized from him in 2001 in a
criminal case he was never charged in. The money, which was in a locked safe in
his home, and was from a settlement Jones received from an automobile accident.
The lawsuit is asking a federal judge to stop APD and the city from
indefinitely holding seized property without following state forfeiture
Albq. Journal:A surveillance video show nine guards at the
MetropolitanDetention Center in
Bernalillo county beating three shackled inmates as they are being checked into
the facility.The inmates were forced
into a wall face first, struck in the face with a fist, and viciously beaten
for 17 minutes.
Journal:The Attorney General has
initiated an investigation of theft of"thousands of dollars in cash, drugs, guns, jewelry and other high
dollar items" from the APD evidence room and is looking at APD’s handling
of their own alleged investigation of this situation. An anonymous letter to
the AG’s office claims that evidence was destroyed and that "APD
management has even helped to cover up the crimes."
3/4/04, KRQE TV Evening News:Total of thefts from APD Evidence Room could
equal hundreds of thousands of dollars.“One difficulty in uncovering this story has been the widespread
reluctance of rank and file officers to talk about the problem. Again and again
officers told KRQE News 13 that they've been warned their jobs are at stake if
3/5/04, KRQE TV Evening News: At least a dozen
corrections officers are suspected in the repeated and premeditated assault of
three inmates at the MetropolitanDetentionCenter.The Bernalillo County Sheriff's office is
investigating the incident at MDC, and Sheriff Darren White says he expects
criminal charges to be filed.
City Independent Review Officer Jay Rowland paid a surprise visit to APD’s
transfer station to the MetropolitanDetentionCenter in response to complaints
from concerned citizens alleging prisoners were being beaten up by officers. At
, Rowland discovered numerous
atrocities, including 27 prisoners crammed into a 12x15’ holding room; two
prisoners handcuffed outside the facility in the cold, one with his pants down
and shoes off for two hours, the other with no coat and no shoes.
The APD transfer center was shut down due to Rowland’s report.Police officers will now have to personally
transport prisoners to the MetropolitanDetentionCenter
almost 20 miles west of town.
3/12/04, KRQE TV:
Suspended prison guard, Ted Arana, who is under investigation for his role in
the brutal beating of inmates, gives a motivational speech to hundreds of
students at West Mesa High School, describing how he assaulted inmates
regularly. The school district says the Corrections Dept. was responsible for
selecting Arana to send to the school.
Albq. Journal: It has now been
determined that 12 to 20 jail guards or staff, including supervisors, were
involved in the Feb. 24 beating of three shackled inmates at the Metropolitan
Detention Center.Mayor Martin Chavez
said there is a culture at the jail that allows the mistreatment of prisoners.
“These idiots have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands, if not millions of
dollars" (in civil suits, etc.)
3/18/04, Albq. Journal:ValenciaCounty sheriff's deputy Michael
Gabaldon is indicted on four counts of fourth-degree-felony perjury charges for
lying under oath about the results of a breath alcohol test he administered.
KRQE News: Inmate James Barber was hospitalized after Cibola County Center
Director John Gould shot him with almost a dozen rounds of from a powerful
rubber bullet gun.Barber was naked in
his cell when the assault occurred. The company that manufacturers the rubber bullet
gun says the weapon is very powerful and used in prison riots and crowd control
situations. The F.B.I. says a grand jury indicted Gould on similar charges when
he was employed at the DonaAnaCountyDetentionCenter in Las
Chief Judge John Brennan of Albuquerque
was arrested at a DWI checkpoint and charged with drug possession and tampering
The arrest of Judge Brennan for drug possession spurred the disclosure of a
confidential narcotics report alleging that Brennan’s cocaine use was known by
law enforcement officers for years.The
report also includes information about drug activities involving numerous other
prominent New Mexicans. “It draws on a variety of sources and reads like a
Who’s Who of New Mexico drug
underworld,” said KRQE TV reporter Larry Barker.“Judges, lawyers, politicians, sports
celebrities and prominent businessmen appear in the report right along side the
State’s narcotics kingpins.” David Iglesias, US Attorney for New
Mexico, called the detailed document about drug
smuggling and money laundering in New Mexico
“a page-turner I couldn’t put down.”
The trial of APD Sgt. Mike Garcia, indicted for sex charges involving a
12-yr-old girl (see 8/29.01) ended in a locked jury.The prosecutor has dropped charges because
the girl does not want to go through a retrial.
8/03/04, KRQE News: NM State police officer accused of
sexually assaulting a female domestic violence victim in the pack of his patrol
car has resigned after a multi-agency investigation into the allegations.His name will not be released.
Albq. Journal: An APD officer stole
$700 from a man he arrested for drunken driving, according to an investigation
conducted by the city's Independent Review Office. On the day he was to take a
polygraph, the officer resigned.APD
will not release the officer’s name.
Albq. Journal -- APD officials say
they still don't know if guns, weapons, drugs, jewelry and money are missing
from their evidence room, despite a nine-month criminal investigation. A review
conducted by a private company reports that "no one (in the evidence room)
can say that there is not evidence missing at this time."Police officials said it was up to the
Attorney General's Office— not them— to figure out what if anything is missing.
Albq. Journal: Lack of action by APD
leadership may have allowed employees of APD's Evidence Unit to destroy traces
of wrongdoing in order to avoid criminal prosecution, according to Larry
Sonntag, commander of APD's Inspections and Accreditation Unit.After problems with the evidence unit came to
light, preventive action was not taken to restrict the destruction of evidence
for a full year."During that time
period, numerous computer and paper records were lost, altered or destroyed to
the extent that limited if any criminal prosecution is possible now,"
12/2004: Dec. 2004: A teenage male was awarded $17,000 for
his claim that APD Officer Christopher Chase beat him with a flashlight in
1/20/05, Albq. Journal: A State Police
narcotics agent has resigned amid an FBI investigation stemming from
allegations he was dealing drugs.
liquid is allegedly spotted near a plastic tub used to store evidence from
methamphetamine cases.APD hires a
hazardous removal company to dispose of contaminated evidence.The chemical damage and cleanup destroy
evidence from hundreds of cases.
Albq. Trib.: APD Officer Christopher
Chase was found guilty of assault, battery, false imprisonment and loss of due
process for raping a woman in the back seat of his squad car.The victim was awarded $ 943,380.
"Frankly, I think you can sleep very well with that verdict," Senior
U.S. District Judge John Conway told the jurors.
APD officers discover untagged drugs, guns, and money lying around the evidence
room with no record of where they came from.
3/05: Capt. Marie Miranda, overseer of the APD evidence
unit, writes Chief Gallegos a letter informing him that in Feb., 2005, the
cleanup of a hazardous chemicaldestroyed evidence from hundreds of drug cases. Evidence from homicide
and sexual assault cases were also "compromised." At least 20% of
those cases are still pending.Miranda
insists that the department had an ethical obligation to notify the District
Attorney's Office, which it didn’t do.
3/10/05: APD Capt Ron Paiz, who ordered an investigation
into high-ranking members of the police department, is removed from his
position overseeing the internal affairs unit. Instead, the unit will report directly to the
chief. "I don't know why I was removed,” Paiz said. “No explanation was
given to me.”
3/05: Chris Jones files a suit against APD and the city
asserting that, when her boyfriend was arrested by police in a domestic
violence case, police searched their apartment, broke open a safe and took
$10,000 in cash.Jones says she has
tried to get the money back, but the police refuse to turn it over.
3/05: Three federal lawsuits are filed by attorneys who
claim APD lost property belonging to their clients. In all three cases, the
attorneys are representing people who were never prosecuted.
A majority of Albuquerque's city
councilors say it’s time they stepped in and examine the problems at APD.Council member Eric Griego calls for a city
council hearing on the evidence-room problems.
APD Officers Union votes "no confidence" in Deputy Chief Ed Sauer’s
leadership because of problems in the APD evidence room.
Police disclose that the chemical leak in the APD evidence unit destroyed
evidence in 235 cases, at least 20% of which are still pending.
3/17/05:Whistle-blower, APD Capt. Miranda, who
reported the chemical leak, is placed on administrative leave and asked to turn
in her badge, gun and squad car.
A gun from a murder case that is supposed to go to trial is missing from the
APD evidence room.APD did not inform
APD Sgt. Cynthia Orr gave a media interview, starting out, “This is probably
going to end my career.” Orr said Chief Gilbert Gallegos failed to act despite
repeated warnings of evidence theft.Orr
said that, in Aug. 2003, she identified two people who were stealing in the
evidence room, but Gallegos allowed them to continue to work there, which
enabled them to destroy evidence that would have proven their guilt. She said
she discovered thefts when property went to auction and the list of property
taken out of the evidence room was longer than the list of property the
auctioneer received."Am I
implicating the chief is assisting to do this cover-up? Absolutely. Do I know
this is a dangerous accusation to make? Absolutely. But I know this is
something that needs to be done."Orr saida deputy chief forbade
her to send reports of missing evidence to the records department, because they
didn’t want it to become public record that things were missing. She said
officers under criminal investigations for such things as DUI or domestic
violence were allowed to work in the evidence room where they could oversee the
evidence in their own criminal cases.
While pounding on a lectern, Police Chief Gilbert Gallegos told city councilors
he has been personally attacked over evidence room problems. Cuncilor, Eric
Griego, brought to the meeting 15 e-mails from officers who feared speaking out
because of possible retaliation.
Charlene Perez filed a suit claiming the APD evidence room “lost” $100,000
worth of her family jewelry wouldn’t return it despite a court order.
Sgt. Orr says deputy chiefs encouraged other officers to retaliate because she
spoke out.This occurred at two citywide
meetings attended by hundreds of officers who were ordered to be there.
Four Albuquerque police employees—
including two officers— are implicated in the disappearance of $75,000-$200,000
in money from the evidence room. Investigators from the state AG Office say
drugs may also have been removed because "we have discovered a way that
this could have occurred without anyone detecting."Police employees were able to move evidence
out of inventory by falsifying auction documents, manipulating APD’s evidence
tracking system and using computer access codes of other employees.
The list of valuable property from evidence room that has been sold at auction
or “taken to the dump” continues to grow.An example of such items is a $15,000 plasma TV set, evidence in a
white-collar crime investigation, which was supposed to be returned to the owner
after the trial.Evidence room personnel
state they took the TV to the dump because it had a crack in it.
3/3/05: Mayor Martin Chavez tell the media, “"When you
have a department where there are accusations, counter-accusations, lieutenants
accusing captains, captains accusing deputy chiefs, deputy chiefs accusing
captains, that is a department in disarray." Whereupon Police Chief
Gilbert Gallegos resigns.
In a furious tirade, laced with profanity, APD Deputy Chief Paul Chavez warned
his lieutenants that if they ever openly criticized the administration he would
yank them from their command. Lt. Joseph Byers taped the diatribe and filed a
complaint with the city’s Labor Management Board."He was trying to intimidate us,” Byers
said. “Others will not come forward because they are scared."
It’s disclosed that In Feb. 03, an APD freezer containing more than 1,600
samples of blood, urine, saliva and other evidence from rapes and homicides was
shut down because of a freon leak, causing some materials to thaw. 40 criminal
cases may be affected, at least 15 homicides and 10 rapes. The police and the
DA’s office withheld that information from defense attorneys, who continued to
construct their cases on contaminated evidence.
Three federal lawsuits have been filed against APD alleging the department lost
or failed to return more than $16,000 that was seized from people who were
never charged with a crime.
Albq. Journal:The Department of Public Safety paid $300,000
to settle a tort claim by black former State Police officer Dexter Brock.On May
22, 2000, UMSP officers forced Brock out of his squad car with
mace, dragged him across a parking lot, handcuffed him to a telephone pole in
the dark, and photographed his humiliation, while calling him “nigger” and
other racial slurs. Police say the officers were disciplined, but won't say who
they were or what the punishment was.
Albq. Journal: APD is the subject of
five personal injury lawsuits in which victims were injured or killed in
Officer-Involved car crashes and APD lost witness statements, didn't interview
people who saw the crashes, or refused to turn over evidence to the plaintiffs.
cases: Christine Roessner was the passenger on a motorcycle on Oct. 18, 2003,
when a police officer cut them off, stopped suddenly and caused the motorcycle
to crash. Roessner was left paralyzed and with permanent brain damage
The APD report did not mention the car was a police car and
stated only that motorcycle failed to slow down for traffic.The report said there were no witness
statements because people who saw the crash would not cooperate with
officers.However, Roessner's attorney
found two witnesses who said they gave statements to police. APD attorneys then
acknowledged that there were witness statements but they were accidentally
Abel Trujillo was killed on 4/2/04 when a police car ran a stop
sign and struck his car.APD said they
could find no witnesses, but insist the officer had his lights and sirens
on.However a PI found several witnesses
who saw the crash and claim the lights and sirens were not on.The city will settle out of court.
Patrick Moser and Marcy Mease sued the city
in 2003, claiming an APD officer was negligent when he ran a red light and
slammed into a van they were in. Their attorneys sought sanctions after they
tried for seven months to get copies of radio transmissions, accident
measurements and copies of recordings from officers' belt recorders.The city eventually settled for $125,000.
Albq. Tribune: APD vice unit
detective Timothy Chavez, a 13 yr. Veteran of APD, recipient of the 1998 Law
Enforcement Officer/Hero of the Year Award, is charged with the kidnap and rape
of a 14-yr-old girl he “met” on a dating phone line.
5-25-05 -- NMSP Officers Thomas Morrissey and Saul Canialis got drunk and cussed out two APD officers,allegedly insisting they were superior
because they were state police and APD was just city. Things escalated until nine APD officers attacked and arrested their State Police counterparts.
Morrissey and Canizales resigned after the incident. Criminal charges against the two State Police officers were later dropped by the Bernalillo County
District Attorney's Office.
Albq. Journal: Adam Arendt was
awarded $100,000 in a federal trial after he was sprayed in the face with
pepper spray and slammed against a wall by APD Officer Keith Sheley.Arendt’s arm was broken, requiring the
placement of 10 screws.He was then
placed in handcuffs for 30 minutes.When
he was released the pain was so intense Arendt lost consciousness and fell
headfirst onto the sidewalk.Arendt had
been had been the victim of an attack by unknown assailants and police
allegedly only wanted to question him.
6-24-05, Albq. Journal: Kelly Sandoval and Josie
Laing, the two former civilian employees at the APD evidence room, whom Chief
Gilbert Gallegos allowed to continue working there long enough to clean up
evidence of corruption, are indicted on unrelated prescription drug fraud
charges.The two are charged with
forging prescriptions at five different pharmacies to get Oxycontin and
Percocet.Sandoval was indicted on 12
felony counts and Laing on 14.
Albq. Journal: Ann Talbot, the
civilian manager of the APD evidence room, who resigned when the scandal broke,
and who was cited in an independent review as the person who “misled” the
police chief to belief thefts were not occurring, has been placed in charge of
the NM State Crime Lab. "We have no reason to suspect that Ann is anything
but the best," said DPS spokesman Peter Olson. "We are quite
fortunate to get her here."
Albq. Journal:APD Officer Chris Carabajal is charged with
aggravated DWI, driving the wrong way, driving without insurance and having an
expired license plate.Charges were
later dropped when the arresting officer didn’t show up for a pre-trial
interview.Allegedly “an administrative
mistake” was made and she never received notice about the interview.
Albq. Journal: When Bernalillo County
Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Chavez ordered Harvey Bell, 80, to evacuate his home
because of a fire in the bosque, Bell
refused, as he had previously been told he did not have to evacuate and none of
his neighbors were evacuating.Chavez
forcibly handcuffed Bell, then took
him down so violently with a leg-sweep maneuver that Bell’s
kneecap was broken.He then left him
unconscious, handcuffed and bleeding, on the curb.
7-6-05, AOL Business News: Pennsylvania AG Tom Corbett files a civil suit
in Erie County Court against former NM State Trooper Dennis Globosky, accusing
him of selling thousands of bogus college and graduate degrees to US and
foreign citizens. His catalog for “University
of Berkley Online” includes
pictures of buildings at legitimate colleges and universities, including Harvard.
7-9-05, Albq. Journal: Correctional Officer
Scott Richter, MetropolitanDetentionCenter, was charged with extortion,
receiving illegal kickbacks and criminal sexual contact for falsifying urine
tests for drug-using convicts in the ankle bracelet program.
Journal:Correctional Officer Scott
Richter, arrested on extortion charges for fixing urine tests for inmates, was
photographed for his jail mug shot wearing sunglasses to conceal his identity.
8-9-05: KRQE TV News: MetroDetentionCenter
officer Michael Pino was charged with drug trafficking, tampering with evidence
and conspiracy for smuggling Heroine ito the jail to sell to inmates.A spokesperson for the jail says Pino worked
closely with inmates. He was trusted with watching them, escorting them to
their cells, and giving them their medicine.
Albq. Journal: Two more whistle
blowers punished by being fired from the Children, Youth and Families
Department .Juvenile Justice Dir. Art
Murphy and Deputy Dir. Chris Sanchez say they were fired because they
documented violent and dangerous conditions in the state's juvenile jails.Those included excessive use of force, lack
of documentation of treatment, lack of oversight, and allowing predatory
juveniles access to the general jail population, putting the less violent
juveniles at risk of attack and harassment.In 2004, there were 652 serious incidents for an average of 305 inmates—
entailing property damage, drug possession, gang activities and sexual
10-8-05, Albq. Journal: Off-duty
APD officers Steve Hindi and Josh Otzenberger got into a fight with NMDP
officer Perry Boyd at a motor cycle show.Boyd suffered a broken nose and loose teeth.Each agency filed a report, citing their own
officer as a victim of aggravated battery.
Journal: The Police Oversight Commission declared two APD officers guilty
of using excessive force and then lying about it. One was accused of beating a
man in the back room of a suspected drug house, the other of pulling his gun on
someone without cause.The cops were
allowed to resign from the force without having their names revealed.
11-3-05, Albq. Journal:APD vice squad detective, Timothy Chavez, was
indicted on nine counts, including criminal sexual penetration, attempted
sexual penetration, sexual contact of a minor and kidnapping of a 14-yr-old
girl he picked up on the Internet.
Journal: Because the Dept. of Public Safety can’t fire officers until they
have exhausted all administrative remedies, a handful of officers on leave
because of accusations of wrongdoing collected $356,000 in pay and even got by
late last year.
Journal:The City of Albq. settled a sexual assault case against APD
officer Christopher Chase for $300,000.
1-5-06, KRQE TV:NMSP lieutenant, Robert San Roman, who once served as the
agency's spokesman faces domestic violence charges following a review of
allegations physical violence toward his wife and of threatening her if she
ruined his career by reporting him.
Albq. Journal:Retired APD officer Robert Estrada Jr is
charged with two counts of trafficking methamphetamine and marijuana.
1-28-06: Albq. Journal: The APD Evidence Unit
million worth of methamphetamine that was to be used in court cases involving
Mario Pacheco and Conception Tobon.
1-28-06, Albq. Journal and Tribune:APD Officer Christopher Chase accepted a plea
agreement on charges of criminal sexual penetration, kidnapping, criminal
sexual contact of a minor by a person in a position of authority and aggravated
battery with a deadly weapon.The last 3
of 7 law suits against Chase were settled by the city for The last three
federal lawsuits against Chase were settled with the city for $600,000. This
brings thetab the city has been forced
to pay out on Chase's behalf to more than $2 million, plus $800,000 to
3-10-06, Albq. Journal:Off-duty APD Officer Brandon Wilcox is
arrested on suspicion of DWI after wrecking his take-home patrol car and getting
his teenage brother to claim responsibility.He resigns from the department.
3/18/06, Albq. Journal:APD Officer
Sara Harris, is fired for her role in covering up for Officer Brandon Wilcox
when he got drunk and wrecked his squad car.Harris was in uniform, moonlighting as a security officer at a bar, when
Wilcox phoned her.She left her post,
picked up Wilcox, drove him home, and brought Wilcox’s 19-yr-old brother back
to the wrecked car to take the blame for the incident.
3/26/06, Albq. Journal: APD Officer Christopher
Chase was sentenced to 60 yrs. in prison, which was reduced to 15 years because
of a plea bargain.
APD Officer Orlando Camacho used his police issued gun to shoot and kill his
stepfather, Kirk Carroll. Camacho was in uniform but not on duty.
8/15/06, Albq. Journal:NMSP Officer Nicholas Zepeda was charged with
two felony counts, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated
battery with intent to commit great bodily harm during an altercation with
Daniel Reyes, after Zepeda and two fellow off duty officers followed Reyes home
from a bar.
Albq. Journal:Jerome Hall, a homeless black man, who
suffered severe burns and lost part of his ear when he was unlawfully arrested
by APD officers Tim Gonterman, Sean Higdon and David Hinson in 2002, was
awarded $300,000 by a federal jury in a brutality suit against APD.Hall, a former medical technician and
disabled U.S. Army veteran, was warned by police not to walk along Central
Ave., then.beaten and burned multiple times with
Tazers. APD spokesman John Walsh said he didn't know whether the officers faced
disciplinary action. All three still work for APD.Hall told reporters he fears
retaliation.One week after being
awarded the settlement, Jerome Hall was found shot to death.
12/23/06, Albq. Journal: APD Officer Sam Costales testified in court that he
witnessed deputies pull Al Unser Sr. from his car at a road block and throw him
to the ground. Sheriff Darron White criticized Costales for "sucker-punching"
his deputies, and police union official James Badway apologized to White
because a member of APD had broken
“blue wall of silence” by testifying truthfully against members of law
1/19/07: Albq. Journal: Former APD evidence room technician, Kelly Sandoval, sues the City of Albuquerque, claiming she lost her job because she
was made a “scapegoat” in the evidence room scandal.Named as defendants are then-police chief Gilbert Gallegos and Deputy Chief Ed Sauer.
2/6/07, Albq. Journal: Law suit is filed by the family of murder victim, Randi Regensberg, against APD, Chief Ray Schultz, and five 911 call takers for
ignoring repeated requests for help when friends saw Regensberg, 6 months pregnant, dragged by her hair into the home of her abusive ex-boyfriend,
Cory Kotrba, and heard her screaming. One friend ran to the home of Kotrba’s neighbor, an APD officer, begging for his intervention because there
was a history of violence and Kotrba owned firearms. The cop (whose name APD won’t release) responded that he would do nothing because he was
off duty. Kotrba killed Randi and then killed himself.
Albq. Journal: $10 million law suit
was filed against Los Lunas Police and Valencia County Sheriff’s Dept. by
Elaine Chavez whose abusive husband, Elias Chavez, repeatedly stabbed her in
the head and killed her father, Paul, and brother, Jerome, who came to her
defense. Elaine charges that the history of reported abuse, death threats and
restraining orders were ignored by law enforcement, (one officer responded to
over 50 911 calls, but wrote only one report), and Elias was therefore
encouraged to commit increasingly more brutal acts of violence.
3-3-07, Albq. Journal: A female SandovalCounty sheriff’s deputy reports she was raped by other deputies at a party. 10-11-07, Albq. Tribune: APD Officer David Maes was charged with raping a woman in police custody.
Albq. Journal: Arkansas
authorities issued felony arrest warrants for APD officers Kenneth Ronzone and
Russell Carter, charging them with battery charges for attacking bouncers in an
AK nightclub. Bouncers state that the cops were “causing trouble” in the club,
and when asked to leave, Carter knocked one of them to the ground and Ronzone
stomped on his face.