Mayor addresses 911 recording controversy

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) Mayor R.J. Berry told KRQE News 13 on Thursday the administration will be creating a task force to try to avoid a death like Omaree Varela’s from happening again.

Varela was just 9 years old when he died at his northeast Albuquerque home in late Dec. 2013, allegedly kicked to death by his own mother. Synthia Varela-Casaus is charged with child abuse resulting in death. Albuquerque Police have said Omaree’s stepfather is being looked at as a suspect.

Albuquerque Police Chief Allen Banks said this week two officers, who were sent to the home in June 2013 to investigate when a 911 dispatcher overheard abusive comments, left the boy’s home after just 15 minutes. Banks said the officers didn’t report leaving the scene for 90 more minutes. Both officers have been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending an investigation.

According to police call records, the 911 dispatcher told the two officers they needed to “hear the 911 call to hear how bad it was.” They never listened to the call, and officials with the Children, Youth and Families Department said no report of abuse or neglect was made.

Banks said another incident in 2012 where both a CYFD investigator and APD cop were made aware of abuse allegations is also being looked into.

“Today we have more questions than we have answers,” Berry told News 13 Thursday. “One thing I am assured of is that no one in this equation from an adult standpoint that had been in contact with Omaree wanted this.”

Berry said a thorough investigation is underway to figure out if the system failed Omaree and if something needs to change. He also said he’s setting aside $25,000 to $50,000 for a task force to address issues.

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