Victim of crash involving APD police chief demands accountability

Victim of crash involving APD police chief demands accountability

We are hearing from the man who says his life was turned upside down after a crash involving the Albuquerque police chief.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – We are hearing from the man who says his life was turned upside down after a crash involving the Albuquerque police chief.

Todd Perchert was in the car APD Chief Harold Medina slammed into when he ran a red light trying to escape gunfire in February.  

Beyond wishing this whole thing never happened, this family is still going through a lot of emotional and physical pain. They have questions and a request for APD accountability.

Feb. 17, started like any other Saturday morning for Todd Perchert. Breakfast on Route 66, and a cruise east for a meet up with his Mustang club in his beloved 66 Mustang. 

“This gold 66 Mustang came to me through my dad, who passed away just a few months after I got the car,” said Todd. 

Todd says the thousands of dollars and countless hours he put into that car were crushed in an instant. 

“It was so fast. I don’t think I had time to even brace for it,” Todd said. 

Video shows Medina – in a black pickup truck – run a red light and slam into Todd. Medina said he was avoiding gunfire from a man in a fight on the sidewalk near his stopped truck. 

“I clearly recall seeing the green light before going through the intersection. Then, all of a sudden, I saw a black truck come out of nowhere and slammed into me on the driver’s side,” said Todd. 

Medina and his wife – in the front seat – walked away without injuries. Todd went to the hospital with a broken collarbone and scapula, eight broken ribs, and other injuries to his face. 

“It’s been constant pain since the crash,” said Todd. 

He says his recovery will be slow, and he’ll have metal plates in his chest for the rest of his life. 

“I thank God every day that Todd is still here. It is by God’s grace that he is sitting here today,” said Danielle Perchert, Todd’s wife. 

Todd and Danielle’s gratitude comes with disappointment. 

“The chief personally endangered the lives of others, critically injured my husband, and was there laughing and smiling as though none of this had just happened. That behavior is not to be praised,” said Danielle. “To make things worse, the mayor praised the chief’s actions, that made me sick.”

Mayor Tim Keller mentioned his gratitude multiple times shortly after the crash. 

“This is above and beyond what you expect from a chief. And I’m grateful for Harold Medina,” said Keller. “Whether it’s our city or the individuals that he helped or potentially the lives that he saved because of the shooting that was happening, we all owe him a debt of gratitude today.”

The Percherts and their attorney claim Medina violated multiple state laws and department operating procedures. 

“I don’t know why the New Mexico State Police didn’t investigate this, as opposed to our police department. I mean, that’s the first question,” said James Tawney, an attorney for the Percherts. 

They want accountability. 

“This is my family, you know, I’m sorry, but how would they have reacted if that was their spouse or someone in their family? Someone would have been held accountable,” said Danielle. 

The attorney formally notified the city and police department last week about plans to pursue a civil lawsuit and claim. They’re seeking compensation for damages but did not say how much on Wednesday. 

A representative from APD says a crash review board will decide whether the crash was preventable, and the internal investigation is ongoing to determine whether policies were followed during the entire incident.

Based on those findings, the superintendent of police reform will decide whether discipline is required. Reps said Wednesday they won’t speculate on the investigation’s outcome. 

Police are also still looking for the person who fired the gun.

Medina’s wife being in the truck that day sparked some initial questions. The chief said he was balancing community safety with her safety.

Right now, there is not a system in place for the department to document if an officer has a family member or civilian in their unit. The only rule an officer has to abide by is dropping off that person if they get a call. 

In February, Medina said he’d look back at the policy to see if there’s room for changes.