City: No cameras in fired officers’ hearing

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The fired Albuquerque police officer accused of not turning on his lapel camera before he shot a young woman, was supposed to have a hearing Wednesday to fight for his job back.

But he didn’t get to argue his case, since some city employees didn’t want to be on camera during the public hearing.

Jeremy Dear’s attorney, Thomas Grover, said part of Albuquerque Police Department’s reasoning for firing Dear was for not turning on his lapel camera. Wednesday morning, it was the city that wanted the video cameras off.

Dear claims he was wrongfully fired from APD. But before he could argue his case at a public hearing with the city, the independent hearing officer told media to not take video of the city’s staff or witnesses, some of whom would be APD officers.

“I object to it, Ms. Levy objects to it, her witnesses object to it, and obviously the staff objects to it,” said Patrick Bingham, an independent hearing officer for the city’s personnel board.

Deputy City Attorney Kathy Levy agreed with the hearing officer.

“We don’t have any objections to it,” said Grover, referring to cameras in the hearing.

Even though Dear and his attorney were OK with cameras, the hearing officer said he’d only allow audio recording.

A private citizen who attended the hearing stated, “I would like this interview videoed, as part of the public I demand it.”

The hearing officer argued “if witnesses are video taped, there’s a possibility that their testimony might be influenced one way or the other.”

The meeting was postponed until the city attorney decides if video will be allowed.

“I think it’s rich in irony,” Grover told KRQE News 13 after the ordeal. “I mean we’re dealing with public employees, I mean police officers that are by definition among the most public of public employees.”

Grover said it shouldn’t matter whether cameras record witness testimony. “If someone’s testimony is going to be different on video versus not, I think that lends a degree of suspicion as to how genuine they’re going to be,” said Grover.

Dear claims APD made him into a scapegoat, by claiming he showed a pattern of not turning on his lapel camera.

Last year, Dear and APD came under fire when he shot and killed 19-year-old Mary Hawkes, after he said she pulled a gun on him.

Dear didn’t have lapel cam video of the shooting.

Still, Dear and his attorney said they have nothing to hide, so why won’t the city and its police witnesses go on camera?

“I think other people would probably say it’s pure hypocrisy,” said Grover. “If you’re being up front and you’re being truthful, and transparent, you shouldn’t be afraid of any sunlight or camera recording about what’s going on.”

Dear wants his job back with APD. His state license to be a cop is still intact.

APD’s official reason for firing dear is insubordination and untruthfulness.

As KRQE News 13 uncovered last year, Dear had 11 use of force complaints against him. APD would only provide KRQE News 13 the reports on two of them, and in both of them Dear didn’t turn on his camera and was verbally reprimanded for it.

KRQE News 13 has been pressing APD for months now to see if Dear didn’t turn on his camera in the nine other use of force cases, but APD has failed to provide that information.

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