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Deposition in APD evidence tampering case released

Chris Ramirez
April 26, 2017 07:01 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The pressure is mounting on the Albuquerque Police Department with claims that high-ranking officials and attorneys ordered video evidence to be deleted or altered.

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APD's former records manager, Reynaldo Chavez, made those claims in a sworn statement and created a firestorm. Attorneys with cases that rely on that video evidence now believe their cases have been compromised.

Civil rights attorney Shannon Kennedy represents Mary Hawkes's family. On April 21, 2014, APD officers suspected Hawkes stole a vehicle, so they hunted her down. When APD officer Jeremy Dear found her, he shot and killed her.

As Kennedy prepared a wrongful death lawsuit against APD, she felt like there was information missing. APD's videos didn't make sense to her. She felt like the videos had gaps, she couldn't explain how a gun with no fingerprints was next to Hawkes's dead body.

Then came Reynaldo Chavez and his claims.

"Based on your experience working as an administrator for the City of Albuquerque with evidence.com, was it possible to take an image of a gun and put into video?" Kennedy asked Chavez in a sworn deposition. Chavez replied yes.

This is the first time the deposition has been made public. Chavez explains that the parent video was altered by creating a copy, or an orphan.

Here's more from the deposition:

  • Chavez: "Here's a number of ways to do it. So you upload a video clip to evidence.com.  That becomes the parent. At that time, you go in and do whatever operation you want on that original.  You … then it becomes the orphan.  It becomes the orphan, so at the end of the operation, you still have the original, which hasn't been altered, and now you have the new orphan, which you've added, deleted, redacted, whatever operation you've done. So you store that file.  You can go in and close everything up, and the one that was the parent, actually go ahead and do the deletion, come back, make your orphan, upload as if it were a new piece of evidence that came in and that was uploaded to the cloud."
  • Kennedy: "And that is how you made the orphan look like a parent?"
  • Chavez: "Exactly."

Chavez alleges that APD gave the media and lawyers the altered orphan videos to prevent further embarrassment for the department or to cover an officer's tracks.

Kennedy filed a motion Tuesday asking the court to sanction APD for violating open record laws. Kennedy asked APD to produce videos through the State's Inspection of Public Records Act 602 days ago.

Based on Chavez's testimony, she feels she didn't get everything she asked for. The state allows a $100 per day fine for non-compliance. Kennedy believes APD owes her $60,200.

Chavez is suing the Albuquerque Police Department for wrongful termination. He said APD fired him for not going along with the alleged cover-ups.

Chavez was in court Tuesday to prove to a judge APD wiped out his city-issued cell phone, computer and hard drive after firing him. He believes APD tried to destroy any evidence he has that may implicate his former employer and he believes the court should sanction APD.

The city has long maintained that Chavez was fired for his performance and denies any notion that it was destroying evidence.

Credits

Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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