This blog article is disclosure and an in-depth commentary and analysis of a January 13, 2010 interview of then APD Lieutenant Harold Medina regarding the shooting of 25-year-old veteran Ken Ellis who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and who was shot and killed by APD. The Ellis family sued the city for wrongful death. A jury returned a verdict finding the City and the officer who shot him liable for Ellis’ death and awarded more than $10 million in damages.
This blog article also reports on false statements and denials made by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos for the Keller Administration to discredit an opinion column of a former member of the Police Oversight Board in order to avoid public scrutiny of Internal Affairs files or the scrutiny of the homicide investigation file related to the Ken Ellis shooting.
Mayor Tim Keller has announced after appointing Harold Medina Interim APD Chief that he intends to conduct a national search for a new APD Chief. Keller has not announced if he intends to submit the appointment of Medina as Interim Chief to the City Council for their approval as he did with APD Chief Geier before he was made permanent after a national search.
JIM LARSON GUEST OPINION COLUMN
EDITOR’S NOTE: The policy of this blog is to first report on the news with sources and research material or to publish opinion columns written by others and provide COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS. Links to the blog posts are separately emailed to anyone who is mentioned or who may be interested in the column to allow people to freely challenge and question the accuracy of the blog article or disagree with what is published.
On September 16, the blog posted the guest opinion column authored and submitted by Jim Larson entitled “JIM LARSON GUEST COLUMN: “Mayor Keller Makes Major Mistake Appointing Interim Chief Who Created The Problem”; Do Authentic National Search And Allow New Chief To Replace Any Poorly Functioning Command Staff”.
The link to the Larson guest opinion column is here:
Mr. Larson in his lengthy opinion column opined in part:
“Harold Medina is the wrong person at the wrong time for the job of Interim Chief and Chief. Medina has no business being in charge of a police department that is still under a federal court approved settlement after the Department of Justice found a “culture of aggression” and a pattern of use of “deadly force”. Harold Medina was part of the problem then and with his negligent management he actually helped create, participated in, or at a minimum, did not stop the “culture of aggression”.
Mr. Larson’s opinion column went on to discuss Interim Chief’s Harold Medina’s past actions. It highlighted Medina’s involvement with the January 2010, killing of Kenneth Ellis, III. Underlying facts of the Ken Ellis officer involved shooting (OIS) include that APD suspected Ellis of vehicle theft and pulled him over in a parking lot. Ellis exited the vehicle holding a gun pointed to his head. Ellis continued to hold the gun to his head as he made several cell phone calls to others as police officers pleaded with him to put the gun down. After several minutes, an officer shot Ellis one time in the neck and killed him.
FIRST REPONSE FROM KELLER ADMINISTRATION
On September 16, at 2: 35 pm, the Larson guest column was published. The link to the Larson’s guest column was emailed to Mayor Tim Keller, Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair, Interim Chief Harold Medina and APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos. It was also sent to others in the Keller Administration as well as the Albuquerque City Council.
On September 16 , almost 3 hours later at 5:31 pm, the following email was sent by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos correcting the Larson guest opinion column as follows:
Acting Chief Medina was never a lieutenant in SWAT and he was a Commander for tactical for 19 months, not 4 years. He was an LT with Property Crimes at the time of the 2010 OIS [officer involved shooting]. He was later Commander for Tactical, Southwest AC and Property before he retired.
CORRECTIONS MADE TO LARSON OPINION COLUMN
During the evening of September 16, in response to the information provided by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos, the blog article was corrected by author Jim Larson containing the information regarding Interim Chief Harold Medina’s work history and time period as an APD Lieutenant and Commander. The blog article corrections were then published the morning of September 17 at 9:00 am with the Editor’s Note pointing out the corrections. The Keller Administration was notified of the blog article changes by another email.
REQUEST FOR MEDINA INTERNAL AFFAIRS FILE
On September 16, at 10:18 am, the following email memo was sent to APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos:
TO: APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos
From: Pete Dinelli, Attorney at Law
CC: Mayor Tim Keller, CAO Sarita Nair, Interim Chief Harold Medina
Re: Corrected paragraphs to blog article; Request for release of Internal Affairs Investigations of Acting Chief Harold Medina regarding Kenneth Ellis Case; Request for confirmation of disciplinary action taken.
Thank you for your email. I take your email as a request for a correction to the blog article published. To that end, your email was discussed with Mr. Larson and he made corrections.
Following is how Jim Larson’s original article read and now deleted paragraphs from the original published article:
MEDINA TAKES CHARGE OF SWAT
Records reflect that Lt. Medina was promoted to Commander and responsible for SWAT from 2011 to 2014. Harold Media was a either a Lieutenant in SWAT or Commander of SWAT from 2011 through 2014. Acting Chief Harold Medina was employed by APD for all five of the years of the DOJ review, and at least three of the five, in a supervisory or command level.
SWAT units are generally among the most highly trained in a police department. SWAT units are called upon to handle the most dangerous situations that police encounter and officers assigned to SWAT units typically operate under strict protocols and carry out operations in a highly planned and organized fashion.
However, in addition to the Kenneth Ellis shooting and killing, it was during the time Harold Medina was a SWAT Lieutenant or later as Commander of SWAT, that DOJ’s investigation also found: ….
Following are the amended paragraphs by Mr. Larson published based on your email:
MEDINA BECOMES APD COMMANDER
Acting Chief Harold Medina was employed by APD for all five of the years of the DOJ review, and at least four of the five, in a supervisory or command level. In January 2010, he was a lieutenant with Property Crimes and the officer in charge at the scene after officers suspected Kenneth Ellis of vehicle theft and pulled him over in a parking lot and later fatally shot him.
Acting Chief Medina later became the Commander for Tactical, which is identified by APD sources as the SWAT unit, where he served 19 months. He later served in the Southwest Area Command and Property Crimes before he retired from APD in 2014.
The DOJ’s investigation found:
“Other instances of officer recklessness that led to unreasonable uses of deadly force involved officers from the department’s SWAT unit who acted without proper discipline or control. In force incidents the DOJ reviewed, they found instances in which the SWAT unit did not operate with the discipline and control that would be expected of them, and this lack of discipline contributed to unreasonable uses of deadly force.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The original Larson opinion paragraphs were removed and the new paragraphs inserted on the blog. The Larson article published with corrected paragraphs can now be reviewed on the blog with the changes. In addition, the following request was made in the email:
REQUEST FOR INTERNAL AFFAIRS INVESTIGATION FILE
The purpose of this email is also to request information regarding Interim Chief Harold Medina. Please advise if Chief Medina was disciplined for any actions or inaction over the Kenneth Ellis shooting.
To that end, it is requested that Chief Medina and APD release the Internal Affairs investigation of the Kenneth Ellis officer involved shooting and disclose disciplinary action taken, if any, against Interim Chief Harold Medina. As the Interim Chief of APD, it is my belief that the information being requested needs to be disclosed to the public and the City Council in the event Mayor submits Chief Medina to the city council for approval as was Interim Chief Michael Geier before he was named permanent Chief.
Thank you for your attention. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Pete Dinelli, Attorney at Law
SECOND RESPONSE FROM KELLER ADMINISTRATION
On September 17, at 5:19 pm, he following email was sent by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos:
In a message dated 9/17/2020 5:19:30 PM Mountain Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
The opinion column you ran by Jim Larson is based on factually incorrect information. It’s pretty clear where he is getting that information, but that doesn’t make it accurate. The original and updated versions build a case primarily on one shooting. It’s appalling that Larson would assume Medina was a lieutenant with SWAT during that incident without attempting to verify the information. It wasn’t a mistake. He made that assumption because it fit the narrative Larson wants to convey. But it’s wrong. Even when I pointed out that it was wrong (you referred to it as a correction in the below email to me, but a clarification in your updated post), Larson attempts to lump Medina in with the “SWAT commanding officers” mentioned in the DOJ report. As I pointed out, Medina was not a SWAT commanding officer during that incident. So Larson’s answer to that factually incorrect information was to make a new assumption, when he says “Then Lieutenant Harold Medina was likely the ranking officer on the scene who should have been giving commands or approving the actions of the APD officers.” So, Larson replaces one assumption with another assumption, which allows him to continue with his narrative that Medina was somehow responsible. The fact is Medina was the lieutenant with Property Crimes. The operation that led to the traffic stop was a Field Services Bureau operation, not property crimes, and several officers and supervisors from FSB were already on scene. Then-Lt. Medina was not in charge of the scene. He was not in charge of FSB. He was not in charge of SWAT. He was not investigated, nor was he interviewed as part of the investigation into the shooting. I’m happy to ask Internal Affairs to track down a 10-year-old investigation. (Emphasis added with bold print.)
REQUEST FOR CONFIRMATION OF TRUTH FROM APD WITH NO REPONSE
On September 18, at 8:42 am, the following email was sent to APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos and copied to the Mayor and the CAO:
Date: 9/18/2020 8:41:52 AM Mountain Standard Time
September 18, 2020
To: APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos
From: Pete Dinelli, Attorney at Law
CC: Mayor Tim Keller, CAO Sarita Nair, Interim Chief Harold Medina, Jim Larson
Re: Request for Confirmation of statement made
Thank you for your Sept 17 email to me and your analysis and position on Mr. Larson’s opinion column. You state that Mr. Larson’s opinion column is “based on factually incorrect information” and proceed to provide a detailed analysis and rebuttal of the Larson opinion column.
I take the contents of your email as the position of the Keller Administration. For that reason, I am asking you to please attest and confirm the truthfulness of your own statements in your email to me where you say at the end “… Then Lt. Medina was not in charge of the scene. … He was not investigated, nor was he interviewed as part of the investigation into the shooting. … ”. I need your response to decide what follow up is in order on the blog, if any, to Mr. Larson’s column. Please respond as soon as possible.
By copy of this email I am advising the Mayor, the CAO and Mr. Larson of my request.
Pete Dinelli, Attorney at Law
As of September 21, no response has been provided by the Keller Administration to the email requesting confirmation of the truthfulness of statements made by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos in the email sent.
TRANSCRIPT OF INTERIM APD CHIEF HAROLD MEDINA
A confidential source provided a copy of a 12-page transcribed interview taken on January 13, 2010 of then APD Lieutenant Harold Medina regarding his involvement in the officer involved shooting (OIS) and killing of Ken Ellis. The interview at the time was conducted by Homicide Detective Kevin Morant. Then APD Lieutenant Harold Medina was at the scene of the shooting, became in charge upon arrival and became “involved” with the attempted apprehension of the Kenneth Ellis. The APD Case number is AP 10 – 0041334.
The transcribed interview of Harold Median directly contradicts and establishes as false the statements made by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos that “… Then Lt. Medina was not in charge of the scene. … He was not investigated, nor was he interviewed as part of the investigation into the shooting. … ”
THE HAROLD MEDINA INTERVIEW
Following are the transcribed statements made by Harold Medina contained in his January 13, 2010 interview:
DETECTIVE MORANT: This is Detective Kevin Morant with the Albuquerque Homicide Unit. Today’s date [is] January 13th, 2010. The time is 1221 hours We are present at the intersection of Constitution and Westerfield. This is in reference to case number AP 10-0004134. This is an interview with — can you state your name for the record, please?
HAROLD MEDINA: Lieutenant Harold Medina.
…[ Personal information, date of birth redacted.]
DETECTIVE MORANT: … And what substation do you work out of?
HAROLD MEDINA: CIB … Property Crimes
DETECTIVE MORANT: So your out of the main [downtown headquarters]?
HAROLD MEDINA: Yes.
DETECTIVE MORANT: … All right. Just kind of start from the beginning, what you heard, what you observed, what you did, what you saw, … the whole spiel.
HAROLD MEDINA: “Early today, when the incident started, I was around 4ht street and I-40. I was headed to the northeast due to a joint tac plan between the impact teams, Southeast, Northeast and Foothills, where we were pursuing leads on property crime offenders. Also involved were my burglary unit and members of my auto theft unit and members of my burglary unit.
I was on my way up here when I heard the call come out. I was getting on the freeway … when I heard officers say that they needed backup reference a subject who was armed with a gun and holding the gun to his head … .
[At] this time they advised they needed a unit with a rifle. I did have a rifle with me, so I proceeded running code eastbound on I-40. … when I was getting off on Eubank, I heard 701, Lieutenant [officer named redacted] from the tactical section, advise they were monitoring the situation. And at this time I advised that it would probably be best if they went ahead and started units rolling our way, due to the fact that we did have a subject armed with a gun and that there was a situation that would probably best if we had tactical en route to immediately.
As I was going almost on scene, I asked where they needed me with the rifle. I don’t know if they ever answered, but at that information was coming out that they were at the 7-Eleven. As I pulled up, I saw the subject up against the east wall on the south end, holding a handgun to his head. I did notice that several officers were covering him. I did come up with my rifle because most of the officers were in the close proximity to the male subject with their hand guns. … I took up a position of cover behind the cream-colored Ford Taurus that’s parked just in front of my slick top unit.
I was back there with [officer named redacted] and I was trying to – me and [name redacted] were trying to ask Detective [named redacted] to see how we could get him back a little bit from the subject. But he didn’t have any cover to be able to get back … and give some space to the individual because he had just – – it was too dangerous to try and move him back.
So I moved forward to the rear end of the pickup truck. I was covering the subject from the back of the truck. … I was covering the subject from the rear of the truck. … I tried to get better cover, so I went down to the ground. I tried to take a – – get a good position of cover from there, but it still left me too exposed.
So when I was too exposed, I came back up, and as I was coming back up, I saw that the individual had taken the gun away from his head for a brief second. And at that point I would have utilized deadly force, but I was in a position of moving. By the time I came up, the subject was — had already put the gun back to his head.
And the reason I say I would have used deadly force is because, when the gun came down, there was officers all around and at that point, when the gun came away from his head, he easily was covering somebody at that point with all the officers around.
I realized that a lot of the officers were in that close proximity and if that happened again, that deadly force would be justified. … I started to move towards the front of the truck and told [officer name redacted] that if the gun came away from the subject’s head again and that in any – and it veered towards any of the officers, that we needed to use deadly force.
At that time, I heard a single gunshot. The subject fell to the ground. Initially, at first, we thought the subject had taken his own life. Then as we were clearing the subject, I walked up to the subject, covering him, and I got blood on my boots, when I was trying to just scoot the gun away from him. But I was trying to scoot it carefully because I could see that the hammer was cocked and the gun was loaded, so I was trying to make sure that we didn’t have an accidental discharge as we were getting it away from his body.
As soon as we got it away from his body an unknown officer came up and said, “Hey, one of us may have fired a round.” And at that point somebody showed me a .45 shell casing next to a truck in front of the Fina on the rear passenger tire.
I asked an officer to secure and remain with that until the scene was secure and we started dividing, trying to get witnesses secured and securing the scene. And as soon as acting- Commander [named redacted] arrived on the scene, he assumed the role of incident commander due to the fact that I had involvement, and at that point it was turned over to everybody else.
There was a dialogue between the subject and officers were trying to talk with him. But I – from where I was, I couldn’t see exactly what they were talking about.
No [I could not hear what they were saying]. It was, I mean, a lot of people yelling back and forth. Like I said, I was trying to move into position. And I heard officers tell him several time, you know, “Put down the gun. We can talk about this. Put the gun down. We can talk about this.” And the subject was refusing to obey the officers’ commands.
Like I stated, like probably about less than ten seconds before the shot was fired, the gun did come away from his head, which was a potential deadly threat to the officers on the scene.
… [The .45 casing found] … was on the other side of a truck that’s in front of the Fina and it was laying right next to the tire.
He had a handgun. It appeared to be a single action of some sort, or he had cocked it. I could just – I could see that the hammer was cocked back. Black handgun with a wooden gripe.
[I am pretty sure that the .45 casing did not come from his gun because] It’s too far. … There’s no way it could have been ejected and landed where it landed.
… Yeah [as to being asked if any of the officers had fired] … And at one point, they told me that it was possible [named redacted] had fired. And then he was with a buddy officer already. And then he was secured in the vehicle. I secured my firearm, my rifle in the back seat of my car until criminalistics took it.”
No [there is nothing else I can think of.]
DETECTIVE MORANT: … So at least on one occasion you saw the guy take the gun away from his head, kind of scan over where the officers were and then you gave the command that if he did that again, deadly force was authorized?
HAROLD MEDINA: I gave it to [officer name redacted]. I didn’t want to yell the information out. … And if the guy was potentially contemplating – thinking suicide by cop, I didn’t want to give him the out and let him know hey, just pull the gun away and then kind of veer in the direction of the officers, and then we’re forced to shoot him. So that’s why I came to up [officer name redacted] and I told him, “Look, [officer named redacted] if he takes the gun away from his head and it’s going in the direction of an officer, deadly force would be authorized.
DETECTIVE MORANT: … So you just told this to [officer name redacted]? … You didn’t say that over the air?
HAROLD MEDINA: No, I didn’t say that over the air. Because I didn’t want the guy to hear it and then all of a sudden have an out as to well, this is how I could kill myself.
DETECTIVE MORANT: Okay. So he was actually close enough to to the officers where he could hear their radios, their radio broadcasts? … Because you said that he — you said earlier that the officers were in proximity to him.
HAROLD MEDINA: Yeah. They were on the other side of the truck. So probably about 20, 25 feet. I don’t know if people’s radio were on or not. … I wasn’t paying attention to the radio. I was trying to focus on what we had going on there.
DETECTIVE MORANT: … when you went up to the body, to secure the gun and to look at this guy, did you happen to see where he had been shot?
HAROLD MEDINA: No. When he got hit, I saw when he got hit and it appeared he may have gotten hit in the head. … And it seemed like that’s where the blood initially sprung from. That’s what it appeared like.
DETECTIVE MORANT: … Anything else that you can think of?
HAROLD MEDINA: No, nothing else.
DETECTIVE MORANT: … This concludes the interview. The time is 12:31.
NOT THE FIRST TIME MEDINA HAS HAD TRAGIC INTERACTION WITH MENTALLY ILL
Interim Chief Harold Medina has the tragic distinction of shooting and killing a 14-year-old Cibola High School student in 2004 when Medina was an APD field officer. At the time of the shooting, Harold Medina was 30 years old and was a seven-and-a-half-year veteran of APD.
According to news accounts, 14-year-old Dominic Montoya went to Taylor Ranch Baptist Church looking to pray. Montoya was reported as saying he was possessed by demons and went to church for help. Some one noticed the teenager was concealing a weapon and APD was called.
It turned out it Dominic Montoya had a BB gun and when APD showed up, the 14-year-old was fatally shot by police after pointing the BB gun at the officers. It was APD Officer Harold Medina who fired 3 shots at the 14-year-old, Cibola High School Student, with two hitting the juvenile in the abdomen. It was reported that the BB gun was indistinguishable from a real gun. Officer Harold Medina said he was in fear for his life.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE INVESTIGATION
On April 10, 2014, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, submitted a scathing 46-page investigation report on an 18-month civil rights investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The investigation was conducted jointly by the DOJ’s Washington Office Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.
The link to the DOJ investigation report is here.
The DOJ reviewed all fatal shootings by officers between 2009 and 2012, including the Ken Ellis case, and found that officers were not justified under federal law in using deadly force in the majority of those incidents. The DOJ found APD failed to use deescalating tactics when encountering the mentally ill. The DOJ found APD police officers too often used deadly force in an unconstitutional manner in their use of firearms. Officers used deadly force against people who posed a minimal threat, including individuals who posed a threat only to themselves or who were unarmed. Officers also used deadly force in situations where the conduct of the officers heightened the danger and contributed to the need to use force.
A significant number of the use of force cases reviewed involved persons suffering from acute mental illness and who were having a mental health crisis, such as Ken Ellis. The investigation found APD’s policies, training, and supervision were insufficient to ensure that officers encountering people with mental illness or in distress do so in a manner that respected their rights and in a manner that was safe for all involved.
What differentiates the DOJ’s investigation of APD from the 17 other federal investigations of police departments and consent decrees is that the other consent decrees involve in one form or another the finding of “racial profiling” and use of excessive force or deadly force against minorities. The DOJ’s finding of a “culture of aggression” within APD dealt with APD’s interactions and responses to suspects that were mentally ill and that were having psychotic episodes.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The January 13, 2010 interview of Harold Medina occurred within hours and at the scene of the shooting on the day of the killing of Ken Ellis. The time of the interview substantially increases the accuracy of Medina’s recollection of what happened that tragic day for Ken Ellis.
Medina inserted himself into the Ken Ellis encounter by APD. At the beginning of the interview, Medina makes it clear he worked at the downtown headquarters, he left the station and was heading to a “tact” plan involving his “burglary unit and members of [his] auto theft unit and members of [his] burglary unit.” and his impact teams he supervised. However, he was not part of the personnel assigned to implement the “tact” plan but it was the units he supervised that were implementing the “tact” plan. When Medina heard the call over the police radio scanner, he was not being dispatched to the call. Medina took it upon himself to go to the scene and to provide a rifle and his assistance.
As a Lieutenant, his role should have been observation and command, not giving orders as he did to subordinates. Lieutenant Harold Medina on his way to the scene called out the SWAT unit when he communicated with the SWAT Lieutenant over the radio and asked that SWAT be sent to the scene. Medina did not wait for SWAT to arrive. Instead, he escalated the incident by participating and acting essentially as a sniper when he took a position on the ground armed with his rifle.
Harold Medina establishes in his interview that he took charge of the scene upon his arrival as the ranking office by giving commands to officers. Once Medina arrived on the scene, he became the highest-ranking officer and under APD standard operating procedure he had the authority to assume control and give orders which he did. Towards the end of the interview, Median says “I asked an officer to secure and remain with that until the scene was secure and we started dividing, trying to get witnesses secured and securing the scene.” This statement alone establishes that Medina assumed the role of being in charge of the scene.
Medina also had the authority to authorize the use of deadly force to the sworn officers’ present, which he admitted he did to at least one officer. According to Medina, tensions were high at the scene and he says he did not want to broadcast information or orders over the radio to those under his command. What is clear is that Lieutenant Harold Medina himself was willing and able to use deadly force by use of his rifle, taking a position on the ground and “covering the subject” in order to fire his rifle when he felt it was necessary. Medina authorized at least one officer to use deadly force. Medina also makes it clear he was prepared to use deadly force himself on Ken Ellis.
The most critical fact is that it was Medina who authorized the use of deadly force by the officers who were under his command resulting in the killing of Ken Ellis. Medina did not order the use of de-escalation tactics. Medina did not order that his officers stand down. Medina did not order the officers to take safe cover. Medina did not order that the officers back up and secure the area. Medina did not order the use of anything less than deadly force. Medina did not order those under his command interacting with Ken Ellis to wait for a crisis unit to arrive at the scene or the SWAT unit he had requested.
After Ken Ellis was shot dead, police officers at the scene approached Lieutenant Medina to tell him that they thought a specifically identified officer had fired the shot that killed Ellis. Further Medina noted the location of the shell. Both facts in part show that Medina believed he was the officer in charge of the scene.
As soon as the Acting Area Commander for the NE Heights Area Command arrived on the scene, and Ken Ellis was already dead, Medina quickly relinquished the scene to the arriving Area Commander which Medina was required to do under standard operating procedures. The Acting Area commander assumed Medina’s role of incident commander. Medina in his own words gave the excuse that he “had involvement” with the shooting and “at that point it was turned over to everybody else.” The actions by Medina at the scene of the shooting before the Acting Area Commander arrived was a failure of leadership.
Medina’s was clearly the highest ranking officer at the scene once he arrived and he was giving commands, which escalated the situation. His actions of deploying his rifle and “covering the subject” crossed the line making him into a player, or participant, while at the same time he was a supervisor. The fallacy is that there is a denial he was in charge of the scene as the incident was evolving and in the interview he admits he was in charge. Turning over command to another after the killing does not absolve Medina for his conduct and he needs to be held responsible for his actions or failure to act. Turning command over to another after the killing of Ken Ellis does not mean he can avoid being held responsible for the orders he gave, or did not give, that resulted in the shooting death of Ken Ellis.
A jury returned a verdict finding the City and the officer who shot and killed Ken Ellis was liable for Ellis’ death and awarded more than $10 million in damages. Negligent supervision of the officer and training was likely a contributing factor in the case for the jury to make such a large award.
It is unknown if any disciplinary action was taken against Lieutenant Harold Medina for his actions, or his failure to act, during the Kenneth Ellis Officer involved shooting case.
MEDINA PART OF THE PROBLEM
The Kenneth Ellis shooting was among several APD officer involved shooting cases that contributed to the launch of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) into whether APD had a pattern of violating people’s civil rights, specifically through the use of force and deadly force involving the mentally ill. APD SWAT was involved with many of the police shootings investigated by the DOJ. The City and APD entered into a Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) that mandated 270 reforms. Among those reforms included training in de escalation tactics when dealing with the mentally ill in crisis such as Ken Ellis.
Interim Chief Harold Medina is part of the very problem that brought the Department of Justice (DOJ) here in the first place. It was the past APD management practices that resulted in the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice that lead to the federal consent decree after 18 police officer involved shootings and the findings of excessive use of force and deadly force by APD. The litany of cases includes 4 Cases where $21.7 Million was paid for APD’s excessive use of force and deadly force and $64 Million for 42 police officer shootings in 10 years. A link to a related blog is here:
Any one in APD command staff who may have assisted, contributed or who did not stop the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process has no business being APD Chief or Deputy for that matter. It is not at all likely, despite whatever public comments he makes, that Interim APD Chief Medina will ever get behind the Federal mandated reforms which should disqualify him from being the interim APD Chief and for that matter the new permanent Chief.
Recently it was reported that the number of policies violated at the Albuquerque Police Department skyrocketed by 275% and suspensions jumped more than 350%. Interim police chief Harold Medina said the Albuquerque Police Department is now holding officers accountable when they need to be held accountable. Harold Medina himself, now that he is Chief, is the very last one that should be holding people accountable for failed leadership given his involvement with the killing of Ken Ellis.
REMOVE GILBERT GALLEGOS AS APD SPOKESMAN
Another person who needs to be held accountable for his false and misleading statements is APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos. When Gallegos said in his email “… Then Lt. Medina was not in charge of the scene. … He was not investigated, nor was he interviewed as part of the investigation into the shooting. … ” it fair to assume as APD Spokesman Gallegos cleared his response with either Interim Chief Harold Medina, CAO Sarita Nair, Mayor Tim Keller or all three. No one knows for sure who wrote the response other than them.
When APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos sent the email giving an analysis and position on Mr. Larson’s opinion column and ending it with the sarcastic comment “I’m happy to ask Internal Affairs to track down a 10-year-old investigation” it reflects that Gallegos is just plain lazy or failed to do his job by finding out the truth or was lying or he had already been told by Medina about what happened or read Medina’s interview and he already knew Medina’s involvement with the Ellis shooting.
The remark also confirms Mr. Gallego’s reputation for distraction, delay, and misleading the general public and just being an arrogant and disrespectful smart ass given the fact that the Internal Affairs investigation file had already been requested and he was only offering to find someone else to find it. The Keller Administration has failed to turn over Internal Affairs files regarding any recommended and imposed disciplinary action against Lt. Medina for his actions at the Ken Ellis shooting.
Least anyone forget, it was APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos who was at the center of the controversy in which APD deleted a TWEET from its official account that quoted Chief Geier calling the police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where and African American was shot in the back 7 times by a police officer, as “senseless.” Chief Geier later claimed he was not aware of the shooting and said he would not have issued the statement without knowing all the facts surrounding the shooting.
Department Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos later admitted he was the one who wrote and sent the TWEET without Geier’s approval. When a city councilor asked CAO Sarita Nair about the TWEET at a council meeting, Nair said that it was “uncommon” to quote officials without their permission. Nair said that APD Spokesman Gallegos had “stepped up to take accountability for that very human mistake.” Gallegos was never disciplined for his nefarious conduct. One thing is for certain, Gallegos lacks credibility and should be removed as a spokesperson for APD.
CLEAN SWEEP OF APD HIGH COMMAND REQUIRED
When candidate Keller was running for Mayor, he promised sweeping changes with APD, a national search for a new APD Chief and a return to Community based policing. During Mayor Tim Keller’s first 8 months in office, Keller did not make the dramatic management changes he promised. Keller appointed APD retired past management of the department and past practices. The appointed Chief and Deputy Chiefs are not outsiders at all but have been with APD for a number of years and are eligible for retirement.
APD leadership and management is crumbling around Mayor Tim Keller who is failing to keep his campaign promises of reducing high crime rates, returning to community-based policing, increasing the size of APD and implementing the DOJ reforms. The abrupt departure of Chief Geier no doubt will have an impact on implementing the DOJ mandated reforms as will the appointment of Harold Medina as interim Chief.
Mayor Keller is now faced with the very difficult task of finding and hiring a new APD Chief 14 months before the election for Mayor. That may not happen because of the possibility that person may also be out of a job if Keller is not reelected. APD needs a clean sweep in management and philosophy to remove anyone who may have assisted, contributed or who did not stop the culture of aggression found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process during the last 3 years of the consent decree, including Harold Medina.
Keller’s “new” and installed APD Deputies are a reflection of APD’s past and all have been with APD for some time. APD’s current command staff are not a new generation of police officer fully committed and trained in constitutional policing practices and they should be removed. Mayor Keller also needs to remove APD spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos before he is caught again for lying or misleading the public. Then again, Keller’s leadership reaction time is as slow as watching paint dry seeing as he waited 2 years and 9 months into his 4-year term to replace Chief Geier.
Perhaps the time has come for voters to also change Mayor because his job performance with APD management is just not cutting it.