As reported by the Albuquerque Free Press, the Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) investigation concluded that public information officers Fred Duran and civilian Celina Espinoza lied when they told a reporter earlier this year that APD detectives had investigated a report that the boyfriend of the child’s mother had tried to kiss t 10-year-old girl Victoria Martens several months before she was brutally murdered in August of 2016.
(See also my August 2, 2017 blog article “Police Oversight Board Investigation Finds APD Lied” at www.PeteDinelli.com)
According to the CPOA investigation, APD officials were told last December that no department personnel investigated the child abuse allegations even though APD officer Fred Duran insisted to an Albuquerque Journal reporter in January that APD investigated the case.
Joanne Fine, the Chair of the Police Oversight Board detailed the investigation’s conclusions before the entire CPOA board when she said:
“The investigation showed that absolutely officer D[uran] did lie, set up and lie[ed] about the involvement of APD” … That Celina Espinoza was not guilty of making up the lie; she was guilty of repeating the lie that she was told by officer D[uran]. But subsequently, she said that when she discovered the truth that she went to the chief and that she called the reporter. I don’t know if she went to the chief, but she did not call the reporter. The reporter called her.” (Emphasis added.)
The CPOA investigation found that APD Chief Gorden Eden was told of the lie in January, but APD waited six weeks to tell the truth and only told the truth after being confronted by an Albuquerque Journal reporter.
It is standard operating procedure for APD public information officers to confer with the Chief of Police and inform the Chief of information and evidence in cases regarding APD’s positions and the status of investigations, especially high-profile cases such as Victoria Marten’s murder.
APD public information officers are ultimately responsible to clear with the Chief and get authorization from the command staff to release information that is accurate in any pending case.
APD public information officers are also responsible to get authorization and clear what is said to the press and public with the Mayor’s office, especially in high profile cases.
The question raised is to what extent did Officer Fred Duran and Celina Espinosa notify Chief Eden that they had lied, did Eden even understand they had lied or did he condone and order the lies?
An even bigger question, did Eden ever advise Mayor Berry or Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry what was going on in the murder investigation?
Given the serious nature of the findings that APD lied, you would think our Mayor and our Chief Administrative Officer would hold someone accountable, but that would go against their own standard operating procedure and how they have conducted themselves during their entire tenure in office, especially when it comes to APD command staff.
Eden should have been terminated long ago, and asking that he be removed now when he and the Mayor will be gone in a few months is an exercise in futility.
Notwithstanding, the City Inspector General should investigate what happened and determine if Chief Eden was at all involved with instructing the APD pubic information officers to lie to the public and press.