Police Complaints

Albuquerque man choked and handcuffed for filming an arrest

A City of Albuquerque security guard attacked and beat a man for filming him. And it’s all on tape in this exclusive story from Police Complaints.

Andy Fitzgerald works out of the Alvarado Transportation Center, downtown Albuquerque’s main bus and train station. He’s not a police officer, just a city-employed security guard. Last August, he arrested a man who, he says, was intoxicated. When another man began filming the arrest, things got ugly.

Police Complaints interviewed the second man and obtained the video footage he captured with his smart phone. He says he was just a bystander and doesn’t even know the man Fitzgerald had arrested. But when he walked to this bus stop after work, something looked suspicious, so he started filming it.

He asked the first man how Fitzgerald could have arrested him, since Fitzgerald is only a security guard, not a police officer. Andy Fitzgerald didn’t like being called “just a security guard”, so he went after the man with the camera. Then, with no provocation whatsoever, Fitzgerald and his partner Akeem Powdrell attack the man and throw him to the ground.

The entire attack was captured on the man’s smart phone camera. The video footage quickly becomes noisy and shaky but a disturbing picture emerges of city employee Andy Fitzgerald completely losing control.

Employee has history of excessive force

It’s not the first time Andy Fitzgerald has gotten violent on the job. According to public records obtained by Police Complaints, the city transit department has disciplined Fitzgerald twice before for excessive force, far exceeding his authority as a security guard. In fact, we found seven disciplinary actions in Fitzgerald’s personnel file, for everything from filing false patrol logs, to thieving from the snack bar at a local laundromat. All these files are published on our Web site at www.policecomplaints.info.

Also on the scene was transit security officer Akeem Powdrell. He didn’t intervene the first time his partner attacked, but he did start sounding a little scared when Fitzgerald put his hands around the man’s throat and began choking him.

A witness at the scene was so shaken by Fitzgerald’s actions that he called the police from his own cell phone to report the attack, even though officer Akeem Powdrell tried to stop him.

Police investigation—or cover-up?

By the time police arrived on the scene, Andy Fitzgerald had cooled down and the man he had beaten and choked was seated on a bench, handcuffed. But APD officers Daniel Galvan and Amy Markwick didn’t do much of an investigation.

Police interviewed a city bus driver, Nathaniel Krantz, who claims he saw the whole thing. Krantz told officers that Fitzgerald had acted in self-defense, but the video evidence shows a different story. On the video seen above, the man is seated and peaceable when Andy Fitzgerald attacks him.

Another witness came forward and tried to tell the truth, but Officer Galvan wasn’t listening. Officer Daniel Galvan can be heard on his own lapel camera screaming “Shut up!”, violently and emotionally. Then Galvan placed his hands on the witness and forced him to leave the scene. Galvan never interviewed the witness about what actually happened.

Galvan even threatened to arrest Andy Fitzgerald’s victim when the man refused to sign an “Order Not to Return” being issued to him. Galvan had already arrested another witness who refused to sign the same document, but when the man with the camera told Galvan that he was not legally obliged to sign anything, Galvan backed down and the beating victim was allowed to leave the scene.

Andy Fitzgerald and Akeem Powdrell are public employees. When they are in public, performing their public duties, they should expect to be photographed or filmed. Especially when they attack and arrest a law-abiding citizen.

This exclusive story was uncovered and reported by Police Complaints of Albuquerque, promoting direct and local police oversight, by citizens, for citizens. Visit our Web site or find us on Facebook for more exclusive stories about police misconduct. Please comment, please share, and please subscribe.

  • You make your money with sensationalism so naturally you want this to be bigger than it is. The phone guy did not know what was going on and should have stayed out of it. Film if he must be he should not buck people. His hands are not innocent. He did all that talking to make this man deliberately look bad. I think he had no right to talk rudely and condescending to the security guard. People like this phone guy start riots with all their talk and get people worked up about brutality. And you people encourage it. This is an exaggeration and nothing can be determined except they were both angry; anything else is in the eyes of the beholder.

  • Right, he broke the law against being condescending. So he got choked. Be sure to call Andy's boss and explain it all before he gets fired. You can make a difference!

  • Yea, right. I'm laughing all the way to the bank. It's just a shame the honest cops have to get the news out this way...NOT!!!! And oh ya, I guess a cop tasering a guy who is already being tasered and down is OK simply because he didn't know what was going on. At least it's OK according to the DA....

  • MJ, not in a free country. You really want to give cops and even security guards (not even versed in law) that much power? No way.