City touts report on APD lapel cam probe; whistleblower’s attorney fires back

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city says a new report clears the Albuquerque Police Department after former APD records custodian Reynaldo Chavez made alarming accusations that the department doctored or deleted videos. Chavez’s attorney, however, has a much different take.

The report cost taxpayers $35,000, and it looked at the video evidence in two high-profile fatal shootings.

Read the full Report of Findings >>

Police lapel videos in the officer-involved shooting of suspected car thief Mary Hawkes in April 2014 and the shooting death of fleeing suspect Jeremy Robertson in July 2014 were examined by a Chicago-based computer forensics firm.

“The report calls Mr. Chavez’s affidavit either inadvertently or deliberately misleading,” said Jessica Hernandez, Albuquerque’s city attorney.

Hernandez said the city hired the company for an independent probe after Chavez, who was terminated by the city, blew the whistle claiming APD altered body cam video or even made it disappear.

“Reynaldo Chavez’s affidavit raised very serious allegations of essentially evidence tampering, evidence destruction, and this report finds that that did not happen,” she said.

The city stands by the report’s findings that the original video files uploaded to Evidence.com, Taser’s platform for storing data, are in tact and unaltered.

In his lawsuit, Chavez maintained that copies of lapel videos released by the department were edited to cover up misconduct and to stop bad press.

“Right now, we still don’t any evidence that the production copy is different from the original,” Hernandez said.

Chavez’s attorney Thomas Grover was unavailable to go on camera, but Thursday night released a statement to KRQE News 13:

This report shows and confirms that there’s a huge gap between the pool of original recordings of a given police event and what is ultimately viewed by parties or witnesses, such as my client, in litigation. The report confirms, there are numerous opportunities by which a given video is exposed to alteration prior to being uploaded to Evidence.com. This whole program, which began under a cloud of misconduct by disgraced chief Schultz is nothing short of a train wreck that is further aggravated by the last gasps of the Berry Administration which is a total failure in every sense of the word – Thomas Grover, attorney for Reynaldo Chavez

“Videos on the camera cannot be altered before they are uploaded,” Hernandez explained earlier in a news conference at city hall.

Meantime, the city is doubling down that what the public sees on lapel cam is what happened from beginning to end.

“If any of those copies that are sent out are not exactly like that original, we should know about it as soon as possible and we do want to know about it,” said Gilbert Montano, chief of staff for Mayor Richard Berry.

“We have nothing to hide,” he said.

Chavez said in the Mary Hawkes case that the first 20 seconds in one officer’s lapel video was deleted, but the city says the forensic investigators out of Chicago found nothing was missing.

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