Earlier this year, an Albuquerque police officer shot and killed a woman who was suspected of stealing a truck.
He’s finally been fired, but not for the shooting death of Hawkes.
Police Chief Gorden Eden said in a statement the officer was fired for “insubordination and untruthfulness” over the uniform camera issue after an internal probe, but stopped short of linking the firing to the circumstances of the shooting itself.
“Insubordination tears at the fabric of public safety especially when the officer makes a choice not to follow a lawful order,” Eden said in the statement.
“In imposing the discipline of termination, I considered the seriousness of the acts and omissions, aggravating circumstances and Officer Dear’s disciplinary record,” he said.
Mary’s death occurred just weeks after the DOJ released their findings after a 16-month long investigation into the APD. We covered that story back in May:
Based on our investigation, we have reasonable cause to believe that APD engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and Section 14141.
The DOJ released a 40-page evaluation that listed the wide range of the APD’s civil liberties violations.
That report also mentioned the department’s lapel camera practices. The DOJ said that requiring lapel camera use is a good policy, but that it’s inconsistently used and not enforced strictly by APD.
“We found very few examples of officers being reprimanded for failing to record force incidents,” the report reads. “The fact that few officers were reprimanded for this failure suggests that supervisors have also failed to insist on this form of accountability.”
In 2013 alone, APD officers violated the lapel camera policy 60 times.
Eden said that Dear was supposed to record every interaction he had with citizens. But he didn’t. In fact, Dear has been in trouble before. He has “9 or 10″ internal and citizen complaints in his personnel file, and there are at least four incidences of him not having the required lapel video. Two of those were use-of-force incidents, and two involved citizen complaints. He’s only been with the APD for four years, by the way.
Of course, Dear is appealing his firing. His attorney, Thomas Grover, said his client was being unfairly made an example of as the first officer fired for not turning on a uniform camera in the wake of the DOJ findings on excessive force.
Oh, and Grover threw the APD under the bus with this statement, but maybe that’s a good thing:
“If they fire every officer who doesn’t turn on his uniform camera, they won’t have anyone left on the department. I think the department is struggling to get the lapel camera policy in place and set an example of him to show the Department of Justice they are doing something.”
In light of the APD’s history of using excessive force and killing citizens, firing Dear is a good start to improving things. The department’s nickname “Another Person Dead” is accurate: APD officers have shot at least 37 people since 2010, with 23 of those being fatal. One notable case is that of James Boyd, a mentally ill homeless man who was fatally shot by officers in March of this year. The officer who killed Boyd retired early – and is collecting his full pension.
Eden has fired three officers since he became chief in February.
As of now, Dear isn’t facing any charges in the death of Mary Hawkes.Facebook and Twitter, and follow our friends at RepublicanLegion.com.