Police Abuse

Albuquerque PD Fires Cop For Not Turning Body Cam On Before Fatal Shooting, Cop's Lawyer Claims Unfair Treatment

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shot by cop
APD

On April 21 cops in Albuquerque shot and killed 19-year-old Mary Hawkes, who was suspected of auto theft. It was the third fatal shooting by officers from the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) in a month and the first since the Department of Justice (DOJ) had announced the results of its review of civil rights violations and abuses by the APD. The assistant attorney general who made that announcement insisted that even though the DOJ found a likely pattern and practice of civil rights abuses, it wasn't singling out any individual officer or questioning the character of the department's members.

"We recognize that many of you are dedicated public servants who wear your badge with distinction," said Jocelyn Samuels, the assistant attorney general. "We do not intend our findings today to mean that you must needlessly risk your lives or safety. You must come home safely to your family and loved ones."

The feds may have declined to target any specific officer that may be contributing to the pattern and practice of abuse but at least in the case of the shooting of Mary Hawkes the APD showed it might be interested in actually disciplining officers contributing to the department's problems. Officers of the APD are equipped with body cameras. Footage from such cameras has helped bring attention to questionable police shootings like that of a knife- or brake pad-wielding man in December or that of a homeless camper in March that sparked protests across New Mexico.

The officer who shot and killed Hawkes did not have his lapel camera turned on. He insists he turned it on prior to the encounter but it was off and the manufacturer said they couldn't determine if the officer was being truthful. Now the officer, Jeremy Dear, has been fired. Reuters reports:

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.

Dear has not been charged in the incident.

"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. 

Dear's lawyer insists the APD isn't being fair to his client and is trying to "set an example" by firing Dear. "If they fire every officer who doesn't turn on his uniform camera, they won't have anyone left on the department," said the attorney.

Well, them's the brakes. The APD has one of the highest per capita killing rates in the country for a police department. The DOJ, although deferential to cops, nevertheless identified serious, systemic problems with the APD—problems that have been around for decades. Yes, it seems like the APD is setting an example with Dear. And set an example they should—the department's officers appear out of control.

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  1. “The bitch set me up!” – NoGoPro Cop

  2. If they fire every officer who doesn’t turn on his uniform camera, they won’t have anyone left on the department

    I’m sorry, I fail to see an issue here.

    1. Agreed. Fire people who don’t follow the rules. Continue to fire the non-compliant until there aren’t any. Based on the adoption of 100% compliance to PPE standards in industrial and construction settings, I’d be willing to wager that cops, too, can be trained to follow some basic steps that they’d rather not.

    2. Agreed. That would be a feature, not a bug.

  3. Dear’s lawyer insists the APD isn’t being fair to his client and is trying to “set an example” by firing Dear. “If they fire every officer who doesn’t turn on his uniform camera, they won’t have anyone left on the department,” said the attorney.

    The PD brass really want those body-cams turned on. The camera is the record of the interaction between the cop and perp. It’s the same as a sales clerk using a cash register to verify and record a sale. Or a FedEx guy scanning a barcode to verify and record a delivery. How many unrecorded sales transactions or unverified deliveries could an employee do before they were fired? Of course, I’m referring to the private sector, where people expect results. But why not try it with cops, too?

    1. I’d answer in the affirmative: “We absolutely are aiming to set an example. It is no longer acceptable for use-of-force incidents to occur without activated lapel cameras, and Officer Dear may be the first in a long line of firings. We hope not, but we are prepared to do whatever it takes to change the culture.”

      1. That would take courage and leadership. So, it’s a no-go.

  4. “Well, them’s the brakes”

    Is this a typo or a clever way to make the point they should STOP?

    1. Ted Levy is the brake pad-wielding man.

  5. Dear’s lawyer insists the APD isn’t being fair to his client and is trying to “set an example” by firing Dear.

    Good. Fuck your little snowflake.

  6. In a related story, on this morning’s Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson listed a series of completely unconvincing excuses to justify not requiring body cams on police, citing among others (get ready for this): the risk to privacy!

    Another zinger: Suspects would refuse to talk to the police if they know they’re being recorded.

    1. “What if my broken English goes viral? Pretty damn embarrassing!”

    2. I’m seeing a lot of features… And not a lotta bugs

    3. Are people still learning that they shouldn’t talk to cops? Regardless of whether they’re wearing cameras or not?

    4. citing among others (get ready for this): the risk to privacy!

      If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear. All interactions with police are evidence. Says so right in the Miranda decision. The idea that in an age where a verifiable record of every interaction could be made but isn’t is ludicrous.

    5. Perhaps he meant the right to privacy of others? I don’t find it to be that convincing an argument, but I can see some cause for concern there. After all, cops do enter people’s homes.

      1. If there’s a cop in the room, nothing in that room is private.

        Its definitional. Tautological.

        1. Not true. I normally don’t get to see what’s in that room unless it becomes evidence.

  7. He insists he turned it on prior to the encounter but it was off

    Easily solved. No off switch.

    1. Exactly, the only problem is that they will need a pretty big network solution to essentially store 24/7 coverage of every patrol officer. It is certainly possible, but that gets to be a lot of storage really quick.

      An alternative is that the camera has a random timer on the off command. That way the camera keeps recording for a variable time period after the off button is actuated, or stops the timer if the on button is pressed again.

      We could also add accelerometer actuation to detect vertical acceleration experienced when the officer is running.

      Or just attach it to their guns with an accelerometer.

      Orrrrrrr put them on auto on with a rotating buffer that then captures and stores data separately. That mechanism could also be triggered by an accelerometer. This is similar to how vehicle black boxes work.

      1. they will need a pretty big network solution to essentially store 24/7 coverage of every patrol officer.

        IIRC, there’s a facility in Utah that will soon be available.

        /sarc

        1. I would be ok with re-purposing that

      2. They have dash cams, too. When they’re sitting in the car, the wearable cameras automatically turn off. As soon as they leave, they turn back on.

      3. Lots of algorithms already exist to determine a minimum rate of change in the picture. I worked with some guys 10 years ago who were trying to get a good one for store surveillance that didn’t waste storage space when the store was closed and unoccupied. Basically, they could compare two pictures by regions (I think they were using 16?) and see if there was any region where the change intensity was above a threshold. Lots of false positives, but not many false negatives. I’m sure that technology has progressed to usable levels by now. Image analysis is light years ahead of where it was in 2002.

        1. voice activated would be a good start.

          1. There you go.

  8. Don’t worry, after all the Ferguson thing getting national attention and even the attention of our fearless and always diligent leader, the DOJ and Obama will be all over this injustice and …. oh wait, I just looked at the picture, it’s only some white chick. Nothing to see here.

    1. Hey, if it can’t be politically exploited, why bother caring?

  9. Welcome, Cops, to the world of real f-ing professions where your actions have realistic consequences. Doctors, engineers, and thousands of others have been dealing with this for centuries.

    1. Doctors, engineers, and thousands of others

      Meh. They’re neither public servants nor heroes.

      1. Meh. I think many physicians really are both.

        1. DON’T TALK ABOUT GROOVUS!

          1. *moment of silence for the good doctor’s presence on H&R*

  10. “If they fire every officer who doesn’t turn on his uniform camera, they won’t have anyone left on the department,” said the attorney.

    “Thank you so much for that show of confidence in our competence to handle simple electronic devices, asshole!” – the police officers of the Albuquerque Police Department.

    1. It’s amazing how an on/off switch is very similar to a safety on a firearm.

      1. The camera “just went off”, like so many cop guns do.

      2. “In all the excitement, I confused my camera with my taser!”

        1. They turn them off because they don’t want to have an “officer-involved shooting” with an unlicensed camera…

  11. If they fire every officer who doesn’t turn on his uniform camera, they won’t have anyone left on the department.

    Funny how people who rely so heavily on the rationale that “procedures were followed” seem to have such a problem with following procedures.

    1. You don’t get fired for not following procedures. You get more training.

  12. This seems a good time to note that Officer Dear has been involved in multiple use of force accusations, and in every one of them, well, gosh darnit, the video was turned off! Or defective! Or wasn’t working!

    1. That poor Dear is certainly unlucky.

  13. Lawyers get paid to defend the indefensible and this is what doing that looks like. No, they won’t fire every officer who forgets to turn his camera on. They will only fire every one who forgets to do so and then shoots someone. If you have an ordinary day on the beat and forget to turn your camera on, you get a slap on the wrist. If you forget the day you have to shoot someone, you get fired. Its not a difficult standard to grasp.

    1. I’d expand that to any use of force complaint. If an officer is accused of excessive force and “forgets” to turn his or her camera on, that officer is assumed guilty (at least from an internal affairs standpoint) of using excessive force.

      1. Yeah that too. Not every mistake is treated equally. If you accidentally run a stop sign and don’t hit anyone, no harm no foul. Run one and hit and kill another driver and you are in a lot of trouble.

    2. I think the point of confusion is the presence of a standard.

  14. I’m sure this guy is being courted by a dozen police departments right now. It won’t hurt him any. He’ll be working with a raise before long, and will likely get a fat check when his lawyer is done.

  15. “You must come home safely to your family and loved ones.”

    good god a-fucking-mighty. And from an assistant AG, no less. Do your job in a professional, smart manner and chances are extremely good that you’ll not only go home safely, you will retire that way, too.

    1. “You must come home safely to your family and loved ones.”

      So follow the fucking safety procedures and make sure your camera is on.

      1. That’s the other thing. Take the Tamir Rice case in Cleveland. Ignore everything about whether or not the cop was justified in shooting him. If Tamir Rice had actually been armed, that cop would’ve been dead. Creating situations and then using them to justify further force, that’s the American (police) way!

        1. He’d be dead? If you can’t get the drop on a 12-year-old, you don’t have what it takes to be a meter maid, much less a cop.

          1. 12 year old me could shoot better than the vast majority of cops.

          2. Ah yes, but the narrative has been that they didn’t know the age, and thought it was a 20 year old they were dealing with.

            1. Which is why they only took two seconds to assess the situation before firing.

              1. It is the perfect fracture line for the narrative though. Either every cop is a brave hero who is literally risking their lives for safety OR many cops’ highest priority is going home safe at the end of their shift, even if they have to shoot kids who later turn out not to have firearms. Both can’t be true. If they want to be safe, the best thing they can do is wear a camera that uploads all footage immediately so people who would harm or kill cops can be identified and neutralized in the shortest time possible.

        2. No, he wouldn’t have been dead. They rolled up, he jumped out and immediately opened fire. Unless said armed dude drew as the cop car pulled up and opened fire as soon as the cop got out, the result would have been the same.

    2. Funny how they never said that to us in the Marines. Keeping me alive was well down the list of priorities for my CO – after enough training it isn’t even #1 for individual Marines.

      But we treat cops as “heroes” the same as soldiers. Which is it? Heroes or fucking craven cowards? First priority to protect the public, or yourselves?

  16. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  17. SPOKESCOP: “You haters fail to realize that this car thief was reaching into her waistband and screaming ‘kill the pigs!'”

    PERSISTENT JOURNALIST: “Does the footage from his lapel camera confirm this?”

    SPOKESCOP: “He didn’t have his camera on, you hater!”

    PERSISTENT JOURNALIST: “Why did he go into a potentially volatile confrontation without recording it as your own policy requires? The camera would have picked up the events you allege.”

    SPOKESCOP: “Look, I told you what happened, why would we need video evidence?”

    1. Cops truly believe that whatever they say is the truth, even when there is irrefutable proof that it is not. They’re pathological liars.

      1. They’re institutional liars.

  18. it says right there in the contract that we don’t have to turn the cameras on because of our privacy imo. you bigots just want to endanger officers because you hate cops. why do you think we shouldn’t be able to collectively bargain your rights and safety away, smh. garble garble garble garble garble garble imagine a wall of text garble garble garble.

  19. You could have the camera activated as soon as the gun or night stick is pulled. A trip switch in the holster.

    And, for Vice Cops, it could be tripped as soon as their zipper is unzipped.

  20. after she allegedly pulled a gun out at officers

    pics or it didn’t happen.

  21. Sounds like the higher ups are more concerned about “insubordination” and not “following orders” than those subordinates murdering people.

  22. If there is no body-cam footage, automatic conviction for highest possible charge: If there’s injury, assault & battery with special circumstances. If there’s death, murder one. Before you ask, I’m counting not turning the cam on as the malice aforethought. If a cop goes into a situation that results in death with no cams, we’re going to assume he planned to kill the guy and didn’t want evidence.

    That oughta fix it.

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