ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The grandparents of 10-year-old Victoria Martens say she would still be alive if Albuquerque Police did their jobs.
A lawsuit against the Albuquerque Police Department and the city claims police dropped the ball and lied about it. Her grandparents believe police missed a chance to save Victoria before she was murdered last year.
The lawsuit states five months before her death, the Children, Youth and Families Department got a tip that one of Michelle Martens’ boyfriends had tried to kiss her daughter, Victoria.
The tip was turned over to police, but they didn’t investigate. Police would later find Victoria murdered.
“APD dropped the ball. We feel if they would have investigated, maybe Victoria would still be here with us,” John Martens, Victoria’s grandfather, said.
Police arrested her mother, her mother’s boyfriend Fabian Gonzales, and his cousin Jessica Kelley.
Victoria’s grandparents, John and Pat Martens, say they want to know why APD didn’t investigate and why they lied and tried to cover it up.
“If they had just gone to the house one time, as they had a mandatory statutory duty to do, Victoria would have been taken into CYFD custody,” attorney Bob Gorence said.
A recent finding by the Police Oversight Board says the APD chief found out last December that no officer ever checked on the claim that a man had kissed Victoria.
Yet, two APD spokespersons, Fred Duran and Celina Espinoza, still told reporters that APD had met with Victoria and her mother, but there was nothing criminal about what happened.
The Martens’ attorney disagrees.
The lawsuit is not just asking for money, but also to order APD to change its policies, including a 24-hour review and response by an officer to any CYFD referral.
“They have an obligation to do that for all children,” John Martens said.
The city will only say it has not yet been served with the lawsuit.
The Police Oversight Board has recommended the police chief suspend Officer Duran for two weeks, and give Communications Director Celina Espinoza a written reprimand for lying.