Created: June 17, 2020 06:10 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The Bernalillo County District Attorney has some problems with the way the Albuquerque Police Department handled the investigation surrounding the shooting on the night vandals were attempting to bring down the Juan de Oñate statue.
"On the 16th, I sent a letter to Chief Geier of the Albuquerque Police Department, laying out the reasons why I believe the Albuquerque Police Department should no longer serve as the lead agency for this particular crime that is alleged to have occurred."
Torrez noted that the undercover APD officers who were present during the protest were never interviewed. Torrez said the officers are key witnesses, which is part of the reason New Mexico State Police are taking over the investigation.
Torrez was also critical of how APD handled potential evidence.
"There were tactics that were used by the Albuquerque Police Department that made it impossible for key witnesses to the event to actually make statements," Torrez said.
Torrez said he is aware of the politically-charged nature of the case, and promised that won't affect his decision-making.
"There are a lot of people who have jumped to conclusions," Torrez said. "We are not going to do that. And we are going to take the time to do this the right way."
In addition to being critical of APD, Torrez also expressed disapproval for the New Mexico Civil Guard, an armed militia group that continually shows up at protests.
"I want to make it very clear that armed citizens on the streets of this community or any community of this country is a recipe for violence," Torrez said. "It is a recipe for conflict. And it is not the way that we should be operating as a community."
Some Democrat politicians have linked the New Mexico Civil Guard to white supremacists groups or asked if whether they should be categorized as a hate group. Torrez said he has no evidence to support those claims.
Steven Baca, the man initially charged with the shooting, is now being held in custody. Torrez filed for pre-trial detention because he believes Baca is a danger to the community. Baca's lawyers say they intend they fight the pre-trial detention motion.
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