Police Complaints: Pc News

Shooting Of Mentally Disabled Man Spurs Lawsuit

From the Journal story by Jeff Proctor, Shooting Of Mentally Disabled Man Spurs Lawsuit

Hilda Valdez called 911 in November 2010, hoping Albuquerque police officers could help calm down her mentally disabled brother-in-law, who had been drinking and was threatening to harm himself with a knife.

It’s a decision she says she regrets.

Within a few minutes of officers arriving, Russell Tenorio had been shot in his home by APD officer Brian Pitzer, who had announced before entering the residence that he was “going lethal.” Immediately after the bullet struck Tenorio, he was Tasered by officer Doug Moore.

Read the entire article

February meeting of the Police Oversight Commission

Attorney Kari Morrissey gives a civil rights presentation to the Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission, then is censored by city attorneys when she starts saying things they don’t like. A long 4 hour meeting with numerous public comments and review of citizen police complaints.

From the Albuquerque Journal story by Jeff Proctor, Lawyer: I was censored at POC meeting:

A local lawyer says she was “censored” by city attorneys and the independent review officer who cut short her civil rights law presentation to the Police Oversight Commission on Thursday evening.

The reason?

Kari Morrissey, who frequently handles civil rights cases against APD, was describing for commissioners what she said were contradictions between the department’s policies and federal case law regarding witness detention.

For example, she said, federal case law states that witnesses may only be detained for 90 minutes. Anything beyond that requires an arrest and probable cause. APD policies have no time limits, and she said officers frequently hold witnesses for hours at a time, take away their cellphones and lock them in the backs of police cars.

About halfway through a scheduled hour-long presentation, Morrissey said Deputy City Attorney Kathy Levy stopped the talk and asked her to step into the hallway. They were joined by City Attorney David Tourek and Robin Hammer, the city’s independent review officer.

Read the full story

Officer Frank Tillman suspended—not fired—for sex texts to teen girl

From an Albuquerque Journal story by Jeff Proctor, APD Releases Texts From Officer to Teen:

Albuquerque police officials on Tuesday released a series of text messages between an officer and an underage girl he had written up for a traffic offense, which the officer later dismissed.

The texts, dated June 10, 11 and 12, show officer Frank Tillman asking the girl whether she’s still together with her boyfriend, telling her he wants to kiss her and that her being pregnant “is hot and its (sic) a turn on.”

That probe ended with IA investigators and a deputy chief recommending Tillman be fired.

But Schultz, who has the final say on discipline for officers, chose instead to suspend Tillman for 160 hours without pay and reassign him from the traffic unit to a job where he will respond to other types of calls.

We hope the “other types of calls” Tillman will be answering in his new position never involve someone’s underage daughter, but the Chief isn’t making any promises.

Officer David Taylor's Wife Arrested for Illegal Gun Purchases

From the article by Jeff Proctor in the Albuquerque Journal, Cop’s Wife Allegedly Bought Guns For Accused Killer:

The wife of an Albuquerque police officer has been arrested on charges that she bought handguns for a convicted drug dealer and accused murderer who used one of the weapons to shoot at police during a SWAT standoff last month, the Journal has learned.

Elizabeth P. Taylor, 30, allegedly purchased at least four handguns for 32-year-old Christopher Blattner, aka Chris Blatiner, who used at least one of them to fire shots at officers who were trying to arrest him on a warrant at his Albuquerque home on Aug. 22….

Taylor’s husband, officer David M. Taylor, was placed on leave late last month, then moved to desk duty Thursday while APD criminal investigators try to sort out whether he “knew or should’ve known about his wife’s [alleged] activities,” Police Chief Ray Schultz said in an interview.

Officer David Taylor later went on participate in an illegal arrest of a man carrying weapons.

Officer Andrew Hsu Disciplined over Beating

Article by Jeff Proctor in the Albuquerque Journal, 3 APD Officers Suspended Without Pay

And on May 16, APD officer Andrew Hsu was suspended four days and required to get four hours of training on arrest procedures, de-escalation techniques and report writing. A cellphone video shows Hsu punching and trying to detain [a citizen] after a fight had broken out on Central Avenue Downtown. Hsu can be heard cursing at [the citizen].

Shooter cop accused of domestic violence

From an Albuquerque Journal article by Jeff Proctor, Officer Facing Violence Charge:

APD officer Jeremy Hollier can expect to be disciplined quickly after his arrest on domestic violence charges over the weekend, Police Chief Ray Schultz said Tuesday.

Hollier was arrested shortly after 12 a.m. Sunday at his home in the Northeast Heights after police received a call from a woman saying Hollier had choked her, threatened to kill himself and banged his head against a wall several times, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court.

The weekend arrest wasn’t the first time Hollier has made headlines.

In the summer of 2010, he fatally shot Len Fuentes after neighbors reported a loud altercation between Fuentes and his girlfriend. It was one of 19 officer-involved shootings from early 2010 through late summer 2011 that drew pointed criticism from community members.

Hollier and another officer responded to an apartment on Crest SE on July 26, 2010. Fuentes, who suffered from mental illness, refused commands to drop his knife. Police say he lunged at the officers before being shot.

APD Cops making a killing with overtime

From a story by Jeff Proctor in the Albuquerque Journal, 6 Cops Among Top Paid City Workers:

Six of the top 20 earners in Albuquerque city government carry a badge and a gun for a living.

The reason? Overtime.

For example: APD officer Simon Drobik [pictured] made $114,727 last year. Officials didn’t have figures Wednesday showing how much of that was overtime, but Police Chief Ray Schultz said a lot of it wasn’t on the taxpayers’ dime.

That’s because Drobik, whose rank is patrolman first class, frequently works “chief’s overtime” on Saturdays and Sundays, his normally scheduled days off, as security for sporting events, movies and other events. Agencies that employ officers through the chief’s overtime program pick up the tab.

Decade of Police Misconduct Costs City $30,000,000

From a story by Jeff Proctor of the Albuquerque Journal, Police Misconduct Costly

The city’s total cost for police misconduct cases during the past decade is more than $30 million when City Hall’s legal bills are included.

The Journal previously reported a tab of roughly $18 million from 2002 to 2011. About $8 million of that total has been charged to city taxpayers since Mayor Richard Berry took office in December 2009 and scrapped his predecessor’s policy of taking nearly all cases against officers to trial.

Officials last week released figures showing another $12.5 million spent on the city’s own legal costs, including staff attorneys, contract attorneys, paralegals, expert witnesses and other costs since 2002.

City paid $8 million to settle lawsuits against police in 2010 and 2011

From a front-page story in the Albuquerque Journal by Jeff Proctor, Police Payouts Soar:

Police misconduct cost Albuquerque taxpayers more than $8 million in 2010 and 2011 combined.

That’s compared with just shy of $10 million paid out in cop cases over the course of the eight years prior.

Shortly after taking office in December 2009, Mayor Richard Berry did away with his predecessor Martin Chávez’s general policy of not settling police misconduct cases — a practice harshly criticized by a federal judge. The change was condemned by the police union, but praised by lawyers who represent plaintiffs.

Read the whole article at The Albuquerque Journal (subscription or ad-supported viewing options available)

Family sues city for hiring cop with history of excessive force complaints

The family of Alan Gomez, shot in 2011 by Sean Wallace, has filed suit against the City of Albuquerque, saying the city knew that Wallace had a history of problems and never should have hired him. From the Albuquerque Journal article by Jeff Proctor:

The Albuquerque Police Department should never have hired Sean Wallace as an officer, because his previous career in law enforcement was “marred by fraud and by excessive force claims, including deadly force,” according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of an unarmed man Wallace fatally shot in May.