CPOB Meeting: July 13, 2017

The Agenda for the monthly meeting of the CPOB includes discussion of the Police Union Contract and an update on motor vehicle accident data. An Officer-Involved-Shooting is on the Agenda, the shooting of John Edward O'Keefe by APD Officers Matt Fisher and Michael Oates. 

Agenda item 13 is "Meeting with Counsel re: Pending Litigation or Personnel Issues." While the CPOB continues to violate the N.M. Open Meetings Act by failing to state "with specificity" the reason(s) for going into closed sessions, the Board is being accused by its former Director of improperly closing meetings to discuss matters that must be addressed in public and that will be the likely subject of any secret Board meeting on Thursday.

O.I.S. - John Edward O'Keefe (1/13/2015)

A hair salon owner spotted two men "acting suspicious" behind his shop, saw what he described as a pile of electronic equipment on the ground in back of his shop, and called 911. Minutes later officers were seen chasing a man running away from them, numerous shots were fired, and 34-year-old John Edward O'Keefe was dead in an alley behind a hedge off Constitution near San Mateo. According to Police reports, a gun and body armor stolen the day before from a Sheriff's deputy were found at the scene.

KOAT News presented a comprehensive report, left.

The camera footage from Officer Fisher's lapel camera is on the right. 

The shooting of John Edward O'Keefe as he was running away from police officers who were apparently unaware of the reasons they were chasing him presents the Civilian Police Oversight Board with one of its first opportunities to explore and explain to the public how a 911 call about people "acting suspicious" could turn into an officer-involved-fatality. Many officers were at the scene of the shooting and the investigation should have been lengthy and complex. 

Albuquerque's Burque Media attempted to get copies of video footage but was refused. The American Civil Liberties Union supported a lawsuit under the State's Inspection of Public Records Act to secure the video of this shooting. 

APD officers shot and killed O'Keefe just four days after Lt. Greg Brachle shot and nearly killed Detective Jacob Grant.

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Flipping Off Officer D.

From the overlooked, unexplored and unreported archives of the Albuquerque Police Oversight Agency, this remarkable case appears.

This complaint and report, in which a driver finds fault with the driving of an APD officer and shows his displeasure, not once but multiple times with his middle finger, is astonishing first just because it happened, but then because no one seems to have noticed or recognized the significance of what had happened or reported it to the public.

Here then — almost too strange to be true — is the story of the April 23, 2012, encounter between an Albuquerque driver and Officer D. first as described in the complaint to Albuquerque’s police oversight agency:

CPOA-Dear-Related-Driver-Complaint

According to the investigation report, Mr. Driver lives in Portland, Oregon, and Albuquerque. His name, Will B. Driver, appears especially designed to advance complaints of poor driving.

The agency’s April, 2013, report charged and investigated Officer D. for not driving in a careful and prudent manner, making an improper stop and arrest, acting officiously or permitting personal feelings to influence decisions, being antagonistic and unprofessional and not recording the incident.

Only the charges of reckless driving and failing to record were sustained.

CPC-072-12-Driver-Findings-Letter

According to the Police Oversight Agency’s letter to Driver,

“A belt tape or video from a lapel camera would have been extremely helpful in proving or disproving the allegations made by the complainant.  Officer D. did not ensure that the his (sic) belt tape or video tape recorder was working before the beginning of his shift. . . Chief Schultz agrees with these findings. The Complaint and these findings are made part of the officer’s permanent record. The Police Oversight Commission agrees with this finding.”

The incident happened on April 23, 2012, just five years ago.

Of course, Officer D. is Jeremy Dear, who shot and killed Mary Hawkes and was fired from his City of Albuquerque employment for repeatedly not turning on his recording equipment. The City appealed that ruling and the appeal was remanded back to the City Personnel Board.

Although the Personnel Board decided that termination was too severe for the failures to record and ordered Dear returned to work, the City has refused to return Dear to work pending the outcome of its appeal. The case against Dear for shooting Mary Hawkes is also reportedly under investigation by federal authorities.

Albuquerque’s Civilian Police Oversight Board has repeatedly scheduled, re-scheduled, and then delayed or cancelled its mandatory review of the officer-involved shooting case against Dear.

It does not appear that this complaint — or most of the other citizen complaints against Jeremy Dear that were brought before Albuquerque’s civilian oversight boards in the years prior to his shooting of Mary Hawkes — have ever been publicly disclosed, discussed, or reported.

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Video Tampering Claimed

The Case Review Committee of the Albuquerque Civilian Police Oversight Board usually meets about a week before the Board’s monthly meetings to review cases. The Board had cancelled its December meeting, but held a Special Meeting after the City’s former official records custodian made serious and specific allegations of evidence tampering.

Here Oversight Board members meeting in a subcommittee discuss with Director, Ed Harness, the City Administration’s plan to finance an investigation into well-publicized allegations by former APD Records Custodian Reynaldo Chavez and attorney Tom Grover that lapel camera videos were altered or erased. Media attention focused on the shooting of Mary Hawkes by Officer Jeremy Dear.

Video by Charles Arasim. The Subcommittee met on Monday, in preparation for the Board meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, January 12 at 5 p.m.

And today the ABQ Free Press reports that City Councilor and Mayoral candidate Dan Lewis has asked the Attorney General to release the investigation reports indicating former Police Chief Ray Schultz’s involvement with Taser and whether it constituted criminal misconduct.

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