On February 4, KOAT TV Target 7 investigation took to task the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) for its social media posts that were considered by many as inappropriate. It constituted intimidation and harassment of the general public. APD for its part made no apologies for official tweets on its TWITTER and FACEBOOK page. The source of APDs posts is APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos. Gallegos has no law enforcement training, he is a former Albuquerque Tribune reporter and worked for Governor Bill Richardson and then Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham when she was a congresswoman.
VILIFYING A PRIVATE CITIZEN
Doug Peterson is the President and CEO of Peterson Properties. The company is the largest commercial property owner and commercial landlord in the city. Last year, Peterson took to Twitter to complain about crime and homelessness in Downtown Albuquerque. He spoke to the media about his frustrations how the unhoused are affecting property values and destroying businesses. Doug Peterson said this about his tweets:
“I was vehemently complaining about the lack of response that my company has been getting from APD, mostly about property crime. The information that I put out there is straight from our properties and what we’re experiencing.”
APD responded to the tweets by Peterson on its Twitter account and posted the following:
“Calling out your b.s. [bull shit] is public service.” (May 24, 2022 at 9:25 AM,)
“You only complain and never offer solutions.” (October 13, 2022 at 3:52 PM)
“Your racism aside, we have charged 99 murder suspects this year.” (October 6, 2022 at 9:33 pm)
APD Police Chief Harold Medina was asked to respond to the propriety of the APDs tweets. Medina admitted that some of the tweets violated the city’s social media policy. The policy states when replying to posts on city accounts, city employees are supposed to “keep it professional and avoid confrontation.” Calling a businessman who is exercising his right of free speech a racist as Gilbert did is not keeping it professional and avoiding confrontation.
Medina referred to the Peterson tweets as “cyberbullying” and said this:
“At times, yes, we push back and sometimes people don’t like the way we push back. I think (the tweets) were appropriate for the individuals that they were meant for. … They bluntly point out differences [and] Bottom of FormI’m OK with that. … There are some individuals who, politically, for political reasons or a variety of reasons, are resort to cyberbullying, which is something real. And I don’t think that it’s necessarily fair.”
EDITOR’S COMMENTARY: Calling a businessman who is exercising his right of free speech a racist as Gilbert did is not keeping it professional and avoiding confrontation and it’s likely libelous. Enabling and backing up a public relations flack to attack a private citizen because he is critical of APD performance is not at all appropriate nor is it cyberbullying as Medina proclaims. Gilbert and Medina have a real warped understanding of the concept of “to protect and serve”.
The one APD tweet that generated controversy came in July after the death of a 15-year-old boy caught in a SWAT standoff in a home that later caught fire. Some used Twitter to blame the police for the boy’s “murder.” In response, APD tweeted:
“Didn’t know a fire could murder someone.”
In that case, APD Chief Medina said he told department spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos to tone it down. Notwithstanding, Medina stood behind the tweets proclaiming that APD was responding to what he deemed “inaccuracies.”
Mayor Tim Keller voiced no problem with the confrontational tweets and said this:
“APD has its own social media policy. … We support their efforts to push back on misinformation on social media.”
EDITOR’S COMMENTARY: There is no legitimate reason to allow APD to have its own social media policy other than allowing it to say what it wants and to attack who they want on social media. If anything, APD should not be allowed to post on FACEBOOK or TWITTER without the post being reviewed by a city attorney to ensure it conforms to city policy and does not violate the laws of libel and slander.
City councilors Louie Sanchez and Pat Davis are both former police officers. Sanchez is a retired APD Officer and Davis is a former UNM and Washington DC police officer. They demanded that APD toned down their tweets. Councilor Louie Sanchez said this:
“The department thinks that harassing and intimidating people is community policing; they’re on the wrong path.”
APD SPOKEMAN POKES FUN OF FORMER CHIEF’S RUMORED DEMENTIA
On March 22, KOAT TV Target 7 Investigation reported for a second time that APD’s nasty little tweets were continuing from Public Information Officer flack Gilbert Gallegos and that he had reach a new low. This time the tweets poked fun at former APD Chief Michael Geier and rumored dementia as well as crime in affluent Tanoan.
EDITOR’S SIDEBAR: Least anyone forgets, former APD Chief Geier was forced to retire on September 10, 2020, some would say terminated, by Mayor Tim Keller and replaced him with APD Chief Harold Medina. It was Geier who recruited Medina to return to APD as a Deputy Chief of Field Services. A few days after Geier “retired” it was revealed that Geier was indeed forced out by Mayor Tim Keller. Chief Geier was summoned to a city park by Mayor Tim Keller during the September 5 Labor Day Holiday weekend where Geier was told that his services were no longer needed. It was also revealed then First Deputy Chief Harold Medina helped orchestrate Geier’s removal. He did so with the help of then CAO Sarita Nair. Medina became insubordinate to Geier and learning Geier was going to take disciplinary action against him and demote and transfer him, Medina struck back. Geier also hired Gilbert Gallegos as an APD Spokesman and Gallegos was a Medina loyalist. As soon as Gieir left, Gallegos and Medina both unleashed a torrent of criticism of Chief Geier blaming him for all of APD’s mismanagement all the while Medina himself refused to take any responsibility for any of his mismanagement as Deputy Chief of the Field Services.
The latest TWITTER exchange began on March 16, 2023 when APD held a press conference to release the city’s 2022 crime statistics and announced that property crime had dropped 40%. Former APD officer and now private attorney Tom Grover who represents former APD Chief Michael Geier posted a response on TWITTER to APD’s statistics.
Grover posted this about the crime stats:
“or another way to look at this is under Chief Geier there was a 23% drop in property crime while under @abqpolicechief there was only 12%”
APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallego’s responded to Grover’s post on TWITTER saying this:
“ask your client who is responsible for lower property crime? Oh wait, he probably isn’t aware.”
In an interview with Target 7, Grover said this about APD’s TWEET:
“There’s been this really disgusting theory that somehow Chief Geier has dementia or pre-onset Alzheimer’s and that he was forgetful on certain occasions. … They’re just these grotesque aspersions towards the chief. He [Gilbert Gallegos] was making fun and he was acting in a manner totally inconsistent with what we would expect from the largest law enforcement agency in the state.”
On the same day APD released the city’s crime stats, downtown property owner Doug Peterson tweeted that the crime stats released by Gilbert an “absolute joke.”
APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallego’s responded to Peterson’s TWEET by posting “how’s crime in Tanoan” referring to the affluent gated community
KOAT Target 7 contacted former Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, who was also an APD police officer, and asked him about the APD Tanoan TWEET and APDs policy of “pushing back” on social media . After seeing the APD TWEET, White said this:
I don’t think the family of James Hogan who was murdered in a home invasion in Tanoan would think this tweet is funny. … Which I felt was completely insensitive. … Pointing out the failures of the mayor and the chief is not misinformation. It’s just criticism. You’re going to be criticized no matter what you do, good or bad. There are always going to be people that criticize you. And that’s just part of the game.”
Target 7 reached out to the mayor’s office and specifically asked if the mayor condoned tweets that were reportedly making light of someone’s alleged medical condition and crime in an affluent neighborhood. A spokeswoman for Mayor Keller said in an email:
“As stated previously, we support the department in their efforts to push back against misinformation on social media.”
VILLIFYING THE COURTS WITH DANGEROUS DRIVEL
APD Chief Harold Medina’s and APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallego’s social media attacks have not been confined to private citizens that may have legitimate complaints against APD and its job performance. They have been known to go after the courts on social media and level sharp criticism to court rulings attacking and degrading judges for decisions they have rendered and that they disagree with.
CASE IN POINT
In March, 2022, Defendant Adrian Avila was accused and arrested for allegedly killing 2 people in two separate Albuquerque shootings that occurred 6 months apart. The first is an August 2020 case where a teen was killed during a gun robbery. The second is a February 2021 case where a man was killed in front of his home by his brother’s kidnappers.
Under the law, the prosecution has the burden of proof to make the case that a defendant charged with a violent crime is too dangerous to release from jail pending trial. After an evidentiary hearing, 2nd Judicial District Judge Stanley Whitaker ruled that prosecutors had credible evidence to charge Adrian Avila for the crimes, but prosecutors did not prove “no conditions of release could protect the community.”
Second Judicial District Judge Stan Whitaker granted Avila’s release on strict conditions, including GPS monitoring and a curfew. In addition to wearing a GPS ankle monitor, Whitaker ordered that Avila remain under house arrest and be allowed to leave his mother’s home only to attend a charter high school and for educational purposes. Judge Whitaker’s decision to release Adrian Avila on house arrest with a GPS monitor pending trial drew immediate vilification from APD Chief Harold Medina. APD Spokesman flack Gilbert Gallegos followed Medina’s lead and on social media vilifief the court’s decision.
APD Chief Harold Medina said this in a TV interview:
“These people are accused of killing somebody and we’re counting on an ankle bracelet to protect the community. … [Adrain Avila is] at the root of gun violence. … [His release is] ridiculous.”
The link to the news interview is here:
On Thursday, March 22, at 2:07 pm, public relations flack Gilbert Gallegos posted on APD’s official FACEBOOK page a photo of Defendant Adrian Avila with the following post:
“A judge released a murder suspect from jail today on an ankle monitor. Adrian Avila is charged for 2 separate murders. Think about that. Two murders. This suspect is at the root of the gun violence we’re seeing in Albuquerque and the record number of homicides. Our officers and detectives are doing everything possible to investigate and arrest the people who are terrorizing our neighborhoods committing robberies and homicides with stolen guns. At the same time, we are getting reports of violent suspects cutting off their ankle monitors and left to roam the streets until we re-arrest them. This is beyond upsetting. This jeopardizes the safety of our community, including our officers.”
On March 22, Gallegos posted on APD’s TWITTER account a photo of Defendant Adrian Avila with part of the same text:
“A judge released a murder suspect from jail today on an ankle monitor. Adrian Avila is charged for 2 separate murders. Think about that. Two murders. This suspect is at the root of the gun violence we’re seeing in Albuquerque and the record number of homicides.”
Gsllegos also posted a follow up TWEET:
“This is beyond upsetting. This jeopardizes the safety of our community, including our officers.”
FACEBOOK COMMENTS REVEAL VILIFICATION OF JUDGE
As a result of the posts, APD’s FACEBOOK page was inundated with over 2,200 overwhelmingly “angry emoji” reactions, over 1,900 shares and over 718 comments. The overwhelming majority of the comments were negative, derogatory and personal attacks on Judge Stan Whitiker.
Below are just a few of the posted public comments on the judge:
Judges who release dangerous criminals need to be held accountable if they commit any crimes!
Yep… that’s New Mexico for you. The criminals have more rights than law abiding citizens.
As a community we need to band together and victims of the crimes of these criminals need to start suing the judges and metro court for releasing them into our community this is ridiculous already
What a slap in the face for the family, friends & law enforcement that have all done their jobs. I’ve lost all faith in the judicial system.
Chief Harold Medina needs to be in the judge’s chambers in front of judge Stan Whitaker and DEMAND answers. How can we hold the criminals accountable when the judge’s themselves aren’t held accountable?
So agreed!!! Unbelievable to see these judges that are a contributing reason for the high crime rate. You officers risk your lives and these judges pour more gasoline on the fire, called crime. I thank you for all you do, and wish we could hold these judges accountable for what do or don’t do!!!
These judges be smoking crack! Jail for life is where people like this need to be. Streets are not safe anymore. AlbuCrazy!!!
That judge should be arrested next.
The fact that this was posted by the APD says alot… I’m sure they are tired of beating the same dam dead horse too. Risking their lives to bring these people in just to have them released.
Y’all need to be in that judge’s chambers asking why. No excuse for that and until we hold judges accountable when they think they are God we’ll see no improvement
So glad we live in a safe city with murders going free!
The people will eventually get tired and start taking them out them self
Expose these judges. Make the public aware of their decisions individually.
This creep committed multiple other crimes and hasn’t been charged! If he had been disciplined in 2018 when he carjacked our boys, maybe these other families would not have had to bury their children. The entire system is a mess!!!
The judges should be the ones to sit and listen to the families of lost family members to gun violence! How many bodies are needed for these “judges” to snap!!?
The judges only care about the criminals they don’t care about y’all or us
Get rid of the judges.
Our justice system is so irresponsible and culpable. These judges are putting us all in danger, including our law enforcement officers, and the police are frustrated because their hands are basically tied. God help us all!!!
What would one of these judges do if one of their family members were murdered? They’d make certain the criminal was not released into the public.
You guys should promote people carrying firearms since the left is already against you guys might as well get the more triggered.
Hopes someone will take care of him.
Someone needs to handle that judge. We’ r Nuevo Mexico.
People like him are the reason why abortion should stay legal, it’s a real shame he didn’t meet the business end of a coat hanger or at the very least have the courtesy to take themselves out lol
Obviously, this judge is a friend of his family. This kind of corruption needs to stop.
THE DEFENSE ATTORNEY REVEALS MEDINA’S INVOLVEMENT
Criminal defense Attorney Ahmad Assed, who represents Adrian Avila said it was not the law that failed but law enforcement and the prosecutors who have failed to prove their case and that his client is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Assed argued in his response to the prosecution motions to detain pending trial that the prosecution’s evidence against Avila in the August 2020 homicide was circumstantial evidence and based largely on cellphone and Snapchat account records that did not reliably establish his involvement. In other words, there was no direct evidence such as eyewitness testimony nor forensic evidence such as fingerprints and ballistic testing linking him to the crime.
Assed said this about his client:
“[My client has] no criminal history, no history of failure to appears, he’s got a family that he’s associated with that are law-abiding citizens, hard-working folks, he reached out to law enforcement and sought out the turn-in on his own, and quite frankly conditions have never been in place where we can say he’s ever violated conditions of the court. … We don’t decide cases based on innuendo and DA’s closing arguments geared toward the eye of the media. That was the whole deal today, was just those notion of a closing argument or opening statement for the media’s purposes. It’s not for the court or the judge to discuss the details of the case. The judge must follow the law, and the law clearly requires the state to act. If the state does not act, and in this case, the state did not act, the court must follow the law.”
With respect to Chief Medina, attorney Assed said Medina’s comments were “irresponsible and reckless” statements having the potential to poison a jury pool and raise questions about APD’s ability to investigate crimes objectively and he said this:
“It’s outrageous for Albuquerque’s chief law enforcement officer, who wasn’t even at the hearing, to make a knee-jerk comment that is purely reactionary and pandering.”
Attorney Assed added that Chef Medina and he personally negotiated Avila’s surrender to APD. There was no disclosure if Medina ever asked Assad that his client be held in jail pending trial, yet Medina objects when a judge makes a finding that there was insufficient evidence to hold the accused in jail pending trial.
APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos was asked why Medina believed Avila was the root of gun violence. In response, Gallegos said there is probable cause to believe Adrian Avila committed 2 homicides, and the community has a right to be concerned about the release of someone who faces such serious charges. Gallegos in a statement wrote:
“Mr. Assed is entitled to his opinion. He is a defense attorney and he is understandably concerned about the murder charges against his client. … Chief Medina is focused on the safety of the community and getting justice for the murder victims and their families.”
DEMAND FOR RETRACTION
On March 24, 2022, Ahmad Assed, the attorney for Attorney for Adrian Avila wrote a demand letter to Mayor Tim Keller demanding a retraction of the APD FACEBOOK posts and statements made by APD Chief Harold Medina on the subject of Mr. Avila’s pretrial release. The letter state’s Medina’s inflammatory statements were distributed widely through APD’s social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter, and that the statements constituted libel subjecting the City of Albuquerque, APD, and Chief Medina to suit under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act.
The Assad letter is remarkable in its content and scope and states in part as follows:
“According to APD’s Facebook page, [the FACEBOOK post] was shared approximately 1,800 times. Some comments … advocated for “street justice” against Mr. Avila, which can only be interpreted as calls for violence against a young man, presumed to be innocent, who had proven to the court that there are a set of conditions that that can keep the community and other people safe while he is on release. This is consistent with the law that governs pretrial release. …
While public officials are generally not liable for torts committed in the scope of their duties … [my client] contends that that these reckless statements expose the City, APD, and Chief Medina to liability under an exception to the [Tort Claims Act] …
“The immunity granted [to law enforcement] … does not apply to liability for personal injury, bodily injury, wrongful death or property damage resulting from assault, battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, libel, slander, defamation of character, violation of property rights, the independent tort of negligent spoliation of evidence or the independent tort of intentional spoliation of evidence, failure to comply with duties established pursuant to statute or law or any other deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities secured by the constitution and laws of the United States or New Mexico when caused by law enforcement officers while acting within the scope of their duties.”
According to the City’s data, crimes against persons in Albuquerque have been steadily rising since 2018. … It is patently false to accuse Mr. Avila of being “the reason for” gun violence in Albuquerque. It is clearly libelous and falls squarely within those acts for which government officials are subject to the [Tort Claims ACT]
[Chief Medina’s] statements affect Mr. Avila’s reputation, and expose him to hatred, contempt, ridicule, and degradation or disgrace. … . [T]these libelous statements subject not only Mr. Avila, but his family, to grave danger during the pendency of this case.
Finally, and perhaps most troubling, Chief Medina’s statements demonstrate a total disregard for the presumption of innocence that Mr. Avila, and every accused, enjoy while pending trial.
If APD is so quick to callously ignore the most fundamental right of defendants, it is evidence that APD cannot be trusted to protect the many other fundamental rights afforded to suspects and defendants by the United States Constitution. This behavior is precisely of the sort that has subjected APD to intense scrutiny for more than a decade.
APD must retract this statement, not only because it subjects itself to legal consequences otherwise, but also in the interest of preserving public confidence in its ability to protect our community.”
You can review the entire unedited Assad letter at this link:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
There is no doubt that APD Chief Harold Medina and his APD Public Information flack Gilbert Gallegos know exactly what they are doing with their social media propaganda releases attacking private citizens and judges. They are both taking it to an all-time low level. They know damn well their social media posts generate extreme hostility and mistrust towards private citizens and judges by those who support APD and we have a Mayor who is allowing them to get away with it.
The condescending drivel and very dismissive remarks by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallego’s questioning the motives of private citizens, private attorneys and also attacking judges for their decisions is dangerous. It’s the dangerous drivel coming from APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos and Chief Medina that reflect what is so very, very wrong with APD on so many levels.
A citizen who has what they believe are legitimate complaints about APD does not mean APD has the right to vilify them or take issue with them and just presume that what they say is inaccurate requiring a public “push back”. It does not mean APD has the right to engage in libel and slander nor violate people’s first amendment rights of free speech nor for that matter due process of law when it comes to the criminally charged.
IRRESPONSIBLE HYPERBOLE TO VILIFY AND SLANDER
From a public information standpoint, there is no problem with law enforcement giving interviews and posting on social media information regarding law enforcement initiatives, the status of an investigation and even arrests. However, when it comes to pending criminal prosecutions, APD has no business posting on social media anything that will jeopardize the successful prosecution of a case and anything that vilifies a judge who must decide that case. Medina and APD posting on social media to express “opinions” regarding a judge’s decision to release a defendant pending trial was irresponsible hyperbole to inflame the public against the court and in a real sense it placed a judge in harm’s way.
Chief Medina and APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos also have a warped misunderstanding of their role when it comes to dealing with the general public and processing citizens’ complaints and talking to citizens in general. Their attitude as reflected by the TWIITER posts is that unless you agree with APD and all of its actions, you are “anti cop” and you are a “cop hater”. Chief Medina and APD Spokesman Gallegos taking to social media to respond to what’s posted on a public forum that they personally disagree is irresponsible and it is dangerous and eventually it going to get someone hurt.
It’s a practice Mayor Tim Keller should not tolerate from his Chief let alone a public relations flack like Gilbert Gallegos as APD spokesperson. Mayor Tim Keller should tell both his Chief and the APD Spokesperson to tone it down and show more respect to the public that they are supposed to “serve and protect” not “vilify and slander.”
Keller should also rescind APD’s social media policy and instruct the city attorney’s office to review and approve all of APD’s social media posts to ensure that its not engaging in libel and slander of private citizens.
The link to a related blog article is here: