ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The fallout continues for Albuquerque city officials and the Albuquerque Police Department as another group with heavy involvement in the city’s police policy has now called for an independent investigation into the latest police shooting that killed a homeless camper in the foothills.
Members of the city’s “Police Oversight Task Force” made the announcement Tuesday during a press conference in Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza. But the group is also calling for another major change, pushing for city councilors to approve their recommendations for change to oversight policies in the department.
The Task Force was formed in mid-2013 to revamp Albuquerque’s Police Oversight Commission at the urging of city councilors who claimed the oversight commission doesn’t have any teeth.
The group says they have a list of ideas for how to make APD more accountable and prevent police shootings like the one that killed James Boyd more than a week ago. Boyd was shot by officers on March 16, 2013.
However, the task force says city councilors are taking too long to act.
Police Oversight Task Force members said Tuesday they thought their work was done until they saw the video of officers shooting Boyd.
“This situation is totally unacceptable,” said Fabrizio Bertoletti, a member of the Police Oversight Task Force.
“The citizens of this city should be afraid of their own police force,” said Francis Armijo, another member of the Task Force.
“Bold and decisive action is required here,” said Stephen Robert Allen, director of public policy for the ACLU of New Mexico.
“The lack of moral leadership is what has lead us to 22 shootings,” said “Allen Wagman, another member of the Task Force.
Many Task Force members said Tuesday they were “upset” by the video showing Albuquerque Police officers Keith Sandy and Dominque Perez firing at 38-year old James Boyd. The shots came at the end of a three hour standoff in the Sandia Foothills. APD Chief Gorden Eden said officers shot Boyd because he was directly threatening a canine handler with two knives.
However, police video shows Boyd is shot as he appears to be turning around.
Mayor Richard Berry said Monday that he has asked the Department of Justice and the Las Cruces Police Department to independently investigate the shooting.
Tuesday, Task Force members said the move for an independent investigation was a “step in the right direction.” However, the group wants the city to act on their ideas on how to give more power to the city’s citizen police oversight commission.
“We need systemic change. What’s been happening in Albuquerque really goes beyond individual incidents but is really a systematic problem,” said Andrew Lippman, Chair of the Task Force.
The Task Force wants to make the Police Oversight Commission independent with its own staff and funding. It also wants access to internal affairs files, the ability to subpoena records and the authority to recommend punishment of officers. They also want the APD chief to have to explain his decisions if he doesn’t accept a recommendation.
“I don’t think we need to wait for another shooting to happen before we start to set up some new policies that are going to prevent this from happening again,” said Hans Erickson, Vice Chair of the Task Force.
News 13 spokes with Councilor Brad Winter Tuesday about why councilors haven’t acted on the recommendations. He says the ideas should be drafted into an ordinance in the next four weeks. He says one of the challenges now is figuring out which recommendations they want to keep, and how those will work with the police union contract.
“I feel very confident that we’re going to have a good ordinance that comes out, the recommendations that we were given are very, strong and very good, so I’m looking forward to presenting that ordinance,” said Winter.