Civil rights groups call for resignation of officers, CYFD secretary

Updated: 02/09/2014 7:34 PM | Created: 02/09/2014 6:53 PM
By: Jen Samp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The leaders of the Children, Youth and Families Department and two Albuquerque Police officers are coming under fire for how they handled a high profile case involving the abuse and eventually the death of a child in Albuquerque.

9-year-old Omaree Varela was allegedly killed at the hands of his mother.

Last week, KOB Eyewitness News 4 told viewers how two police officers, who showed up to his house last summer in response to a disturbing 911 call, never filled out a police report or referred the case to CYFD.

Several civil rights groups are calling for the officers’ badges as well as the resignation of a state leader.

The two officers are now on paid leave pending an investigation.

The NAACP says that is not enough and wants them fired.

The group also wants the woman in charge of protecting New Mexico’s children to step down.

Children, many no older than Omaree Varela, sang songs of praise, but to the adults in the room the songs serve as a cry for justice.

“We have failed Omaree if we do not step forward, we all have failed our children if we do not step forward,” one speaker said.

The Ministers Fellowship, NAACP, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and several African American pastors in the Albuquerque community came together to publicly demand the firing of the two officers who allegedly ignored the seriousness of the 911 call.

Those officers are Gil Vigil and Scott McMurrough.

These leaders say little time was spent investigating a life or death situation.

“There seems to be a lot of apathy right now," Reverend Charles Becknale said. "People are numb to what is going on around them.” 

These organizations also call for the resignation of CYFD Secretary Yolanda Deines.

A petition is growing with signatures asking the governor to look at the case.

“Over and over again and the reason it keeps happening is because no one is stepping up to the plate to do anything about it,” Ernestine Mitchell said.

The signatures are just the beginning of this battle for justice.

These leaders hope their calls for action help ensure children in New Mexico are safer.

APD is internally investigating their officers, but no disciplinary action has happened.

There are no known plans for CYFD Secretary Deines to step down.

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