Created: 04/24/2014 6:14 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Albuquerque police waited more than 48 hours after the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Mary Hawkes before they questioned the officer who pulled the trigger.
Deputy Chief Robert Huntsman says there are several reasons for the delay. One is that the case investigator had to testify in a jury trial. Another is that a homicide in the foothills on Tuesday drew more investigators off the Hawkes shooting. A third reason is that it’s pretty much standard APD practice in officer-involved shootings.
“We need to give the officers time to de-stress,” Huntsman said Thursday afternoon. “It’s a critical situation that could have ended in the officer’s death as well. There’s a lot of research out there as to what the proper amount of time is to get a good, accurate, thorough statement.”
Huntsman acknowledges that practice may change, along with many other policies when APD hammers out reforms with the U.S. Department of Justice. Earlier this month the DOJ concluded that APD engages in a pattern of excessive use of force, including deadly force.
City leaders will soon begin negotiations with DOJ on formal agreements that will eventually be finalized in federal court.
In the meantime, that delay in the formal interview of officer Jeremy Dear may explain Chief Gorden Eden’s repeated statements that he didn’t have enough information to answer reporters’ questions in an APD news conference Wednesday afternoon.
That’s because investigators didn’t interview Dear until after the news conference. Eden was unable to even say whether or not Dear had switched on his lapel camera before the fatal confrontation with Hawkes. Eden did reveal that APD could not retrieve any video from the camera, and that it had been sent back to the manufacturer for “technical and forensic” analysis.
Huntsman said APD supervisors, from sergeants to the Chief, held extensive meetings with DOJ staff and community leaders Thursday. He said APD has a long way to go to regain trust with a lot of people.
“It’s just the first step and there’s more to come,” Huntsman said. “We’re asking that the citizens be patient and at least give us the opportunity to make these reforms and changes, give us the chance to breathe.”
That’s the chance some people say officer Dear did not give Mary Hawkes Monday morning when he shot her during a foot chase after an attempted bust for a stolen pickup truck.
Dear told investigators Hawkes pulled out a gun and turned and aimed it at him before he shot her. Police said they found a Davis .32 caliber semiautomatic pistol near her body – a cheap, heavy handgun known commonly as a “Saturday Night Special”. Hawkes’ friends said she was not violent and had no use for guns whatsoever.
Police said they will soon release more findings from their forensic investigation, such as fingerprints, ballistics and more.