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Judge rules APD negligent, reckless in not preserving fatal shooting video

Jen French
October 05, 2017 10:10 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A judge has ruled that the Albuquerque Police Department was negligent and reckless for not preserving video evidence of an officer shooting and killing a woman in 2014. Now a jury will decide just how much the city must pay the family of 19-year-old Mary Hawkes for shooting and killing her.

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Police say APD officer Jeremy Dear pulled the trigger while chasing her in southeast Albuquerque. Even though the City of Albuquerque spent millions on body cameras, no one will ever see video of the moment Mary Hawkes was shot. It was never recorded, or it was altered or deleted.

Without that evidence, there’s no way of knowing if Hawkes pointed a gun at Dear, as he claimed, or if she was running away. Dear claimed his lapel camera came unplugged.

Six other officers had excuses for not recording the shooting, ranging from a dead battery to forgetting to activate the camera.

The court ruled that while that is “extremely disturbing and suspicious,” the city should be punished for failing to preserve the camera as evidence. Judge Nan Nash wrote, "APD knew they had a general problem with documenting use of force. APD knew they had a specific problem with this case as evidenced by the IA investigations and discipline recommendations."

As punishment, Nash ruled that a jury should be instructed that Hawkes’ killing was "unreasonable."

The city disagrees with the ruling. In response to it, Stephanie Griffin, an Albuquerque city attorney, sent KOB-TV the following statement:

“The jury should be the one to decide the important question of whether the officer's actions were justified or not. This ruling is also based on inaccurate or disputed facts. It states that a number of cameras were not preserved,” Griffin said.  "Several of those cameras are in fact available and have been offered to the Plaintiffs' attorneys for inspection. They have never accepted that offer. The city also took the initiative to send Jeremy Dear's camera to the manufacturer for analysis. Plaintiffs have the manufacturer's report.”

Thomas Grover, Dear’s attorney, told KOB-TV that officers were never required to record every encounter.

"There is and was no order mandating officers to record each and every encounter nor was Jeremy Dear under any such order,” Grover said. “This is an order against the city for not preserving video evidence or retaining cameras and not against Jeremy Dear.

"Because of the city's failures to preserve video, Officer Jeremy Dear may have grounds to sue the city for damages resulting in his inability to defend against the plaintiff's claims. Sadly, once again we are seeing the fallout from a horribly implemented program by former APD Chief Schultz and its ongoing management failure by APD Chief Eden."

Credits

Jen French

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

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