The City of Albuquerque released the “report of findings” by Chicago based firm Elijah on the allegations made by a former APD records custodian Reynaldo Chavez who said in an affidavit that APD destroyed, edited or altered videos of police shootings. (See http://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/abq-releases-report-on-alleged-lapel-camera-tampering/4434665/?cat=500)
The investigation report found that the original versions of the videos made by APD still exist and the report concluded that the allegations contained in the affidavit of the former records custodian Reynaldo Chavez was “inadvertently or deliberately misleading”. (See March 24, 2017 Albuquerque Journal report “Outside firm backs APD on video claim; Original recording still exist, independent review concludes”)
The good news is that that original videos were uploaded and are completely intact and unaltered and still exist.
The original videos can now can be compared with copies given to litigants, the courts and investigating authorities.
The bad news is that the City of Albuquerque paid $35,000 for the so called “independent review” when it was not necessary.
The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of investigation are conducting their own investigation of the matter and will no doubt will also find the original videos.
In characteristic style, the Berry Administration calls forth City Attorney Jessica Hernandez and Chief of Staff Gilbert Mantano to declare the report definitive proof of no wrongdoing by APD.
Gilbert Mantano goes as far as saying Reynaldo Chavez perhaps perjured himself when Mantano says “Mr. Reynaldo Chavez [made his affidavit allegations] under oath and is subject to perjury.”
My recommendation to Chief of Staff Gilbert Mantano is to stop trying to sound intelligent when it comes to the law and start working on your resume because you will be out of a job come December 1, 2017.
In his affidavit, Reynaldo Chavez states video recordings of two police shooting cases appear to have been altered.
APD has also acknowledged that they have edited some videos that they have released to the public.
Watching the City Attorney dance around long established court “rules of evidence” is amazing and as a licensed New Mexico attorney she knows better.
The issue has never been about altering the originals on file, but altering copies given to the public, to litigants and the courts to be relied upon in court as being accurate. (See http://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/abq-releases-report-on-alleged-lapel-camera-tampering/4434665/?cat=500)
What is also being investigated by the feds is if there was intentional withholding of evidence from litigants, the courts and the federal authorities required under the law and if so was there obstruction of justice or some other crime committed.
Both City Attorney Jessica Hernandez and Chief of Staff Gilbert Mantano seem to have forgotten or ignored that Reynaldo Chavez is not the only one who has made allegations that APD has altered or tampered with videos.
On December 8, 2016, New Mexico In Depth reported and it was confirmed that there is a federal criminal investigation going on. (See http://nmindepth.com/2016/12/08/feds-confirm-investigation-of-apd-body-cam-allegations/)
The New Mexico In Depth story called it “a rare public confirmation of a federal criminal investigation”.
Some of the most damning portions of this report are:
“[R]records obtained and reviewed … suggest that officers have broad powers to change and delete video — and have done so. In a sworn, videotaped deposition, APD Detective Frank Pezzano testified in October that he altered video from officers’ body cameras and other sources such as surveillance cameras, including in the Hawkes shooting case.
Pezzano also revealed that he and others have used several software programs apart from the department’s cloud-based video storage system to manipulate video.
Also, documents obtained by New Mexico In Depth from a source show that dozens of APD employees, including Pezzano, handled videos inside the cloud from the April 2014 morning when then-officer Jeremy Dear shot Hawkes. The employees watched the videos, made copies of them and, in some cases, edited portions of the footage.” (Reporter Jeff Proctor, New Mexico Political In Depth article “Feds Confirm Investigation of APD Body Cam Allegations.)
I suspect the federal investigation will go all the way to include investigating the allegations that top APD command staff and the City Attorney’s Office ordered the altering, tampering or withholding of video camera evidence in civil cases.