Inside the Department of Justice's findings on APD

Updated: 04/10/2014 2:22 PM | Created: 04/10/2014 2:18 PM
By: Chris Ramirez and Elizabeth Reed, KOB Eyewitness News 4

For four years, Albuquerque residents have wondered if the Albuquerque Police Department did anything wrong or made bad decisions when using deadly force.

The Department of Justice opened their investigation 16 months ago into whether APD had a pattern or practice of using excessive force. Today, their answer was yes.

The DOJ found officers too frequently used deadly force against people who didn't pose a threat to the officers or the community. According to the report, the Justice Department concluded that a majority of the 20 fatal officer-involved shootings that took place from 2009 to 2012 were unconstitutional. The report says many of the victims only posed a threat to themselves or were unarmed.

The DOJ also stated that officers were too quick to use a Taser on people who were passively resisting, or, in some cases, not resisting at all.

The third finding: When APD officers encountered people with mental illnesses, officers too quickly resorted to unnecessary deadly force.

"Our investigation revealed that the causes of these patterns or practices were systemic and resulted from organizational deficiencies," said Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general. "Chief among these deficiencies is the department's failure to implement an objective and rigorous internal accountability system."

The report also stated that even though the local district attorney's office had cleared every officer-involved shooting as justified, the Department of Justice found that many of them were not. An undisclosed number of those cases have been sent to federal prosecutors for a federal criminal investigation.

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