Vote of No Confidence And Resolution To Remove APD Chief Harold Medina Withdrawn; APD Crash Review Board Votes Unanimously That February 17 Medina Crash “Non-Preventable”; Internal Affairs Investigation Of Medina Continues; COMMENTARY: Crash Review Board’s Vote Of “Non-Preventable” Smacks Of APD Coverup; Outside Agency Needs To Investigate  

At the April 3 Albuquerque City Council meeting, Westside Democrat City Councilor Louie Sanchez moved to withdraw his Resolution calling for a “no confidence” vote in Chief Harold Medina and removing him as APD Chief of Police.  The withdrawn Resolution identifies numerous and specific instance of mismanagement of APD by Chief Harold Medina.  It mentions the ongoing federal investigation of the APD DWI Unit and the bribery and conspiracy scheme with a prominent criminal defense attorney.

During the debate on the Resolution, City Councilor Louie Sanchez said this:

“I don’t have confidence that Medina can slow down the drug trafficking in Albuquerque, because he hasn’t. These are over two years. I don’t have confidence in Medina’s subordinates will investigate his accident with total 100-percent transparency… because they work for him.”

Initially, Sanchez moved that the council defer the vote on the Resolution for 2 weeks to allow him to include information presented during the meeting, but the Council voted 5-4 not defer the resolution.  Whereupon Sanchez moved to withdraw the Resolution in its entirety and the city council then voted unanimously 9-0 in favor of the withdrawal of the Resolution.  Sanchez said this about the withdrawal:

I know we as city councilors have a lot of other questions that in my opinion have come up. What I heard [during this meeting] is that this needs a little bit more work. … I’m going to withdraw [the Resolution] at this time and work on it a little bit more. Based on that I would like to move that we differ this bill and try to get some of those questions answered.”

After Sanchez made the motion, city councilors shared their thoughts before the vote.

Councilor Nichole Rogers said this:

“Chief Medina is not an elected official, he is an employee of the city. … My H.R. [Human Resources] background says we should have a process by which we can evaluate the department and his leadership.”  Roger’s comments reflects a level of  ignorance or lack of understanding. Roger’s does not understand that the Resolution is the very process used for evaluation and for removal of a  Chief of Police who is an “at will employee” and can be terminated without cause and for whatever reason the Mayor or the  City Council decides on. An example is when Mayor Tim Keller abruptly terminated former APD Chief Michael Geier and then appointed then Deputy Chief Harold Medina.

Councilor Klarissa Peña said this:

“This resolution is in front of us and it is very serious. Right now I feel like what we are doing is making a decision based on public outcry, public comment and not really based in fact.”  The Resolution is reality based and enumerates numerous incidents of Medina’s mismanagement that are factual. Medina has admitted to violating numerous standard operating procedures during a car crash he caused on February 17.

The city council did not kill the Resolution.  The withdrawal allows it to be substituted or reintroduced and enacted by the city council at a later date.  The Internal Affairs Investigation continues of APD Chief Harold Medina and his February 17 crash that he has admitted to causing.

Chief Medina drew extensive scrutiny from the City Council after news broke of an FBI investigation into 5 APD officers working in the DWI unit. More than 190 DWI cases were dismissed by District Attorney Sam Bregman because of the scandal and all  five APD officers have now resigned  after being placed on administrative leave pending an APD Internal Affairs Division inquiry.

The City Council raised more questions about Chief Medina’s leadership after he was involved in a February 17 car crash.  On February 17 Chief Medina and his wife were in an unmarked APD truck on their way to participate in a press conference with Mayor Tim Keller. Medina stopped to report a homeless encampment and Medina and his wife witnessed a nearby scuffle with one gunshot fired.

When Medina fled the scene, he drove into an intersection on Central and crashed into another car, injuring its driver who was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The driver of the other vehicle sustained a broken collarbone, shoulder blade, eight broken ribs, and a collapsed lung and underwent 7 hours of surgery for his injuries. Medina’s drug and alcohol tests came back negative.


At the very beginning of the April 3 city council meeting Superintendent of Police Reform Eric Garcia gave an update on the Internal Affairs investigation of Chief Medina and his February 17  crash. Garcia  said he could not provide specific details about the investigation because it is  confidential but said  “we are including two additional complaints that were filed with the CPOA (Civilian Police Oversight Agency).”

Garcia said the investigation process was approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. Currently APD Internal Affairs investigators are reviewing all  evidence, including recordings captured by body-recording devices and surveillance video and identifying witnesses. Garcia said investigators will compile questions for witnesses and interviews of all witnesses will be conducted and afterwards Chief Medina will be interviewed and a final report will be made.

Superintendent of Police Reform Eric Garcia revealed to the city council for the first time that APD’s Fatal Crash unit, which is different from the APD Crash Review Board, conducted an investigation and prepared a final report that was forwarded to the Crash Review Board.  The report concluded that while Chief  Medina “did enter an intersection failing to obey the traffic control devise (sic) without activating his emergency lights and sirens … resulting in a vehicle crash causing injury”  the car crash was “non preventable”.   APD has  decided not pursue criminal charges against Medina.

The conclusion that the crash was “non preventable” cited a court case that established “injury caused by mere negligence, not amounting to a reckless, willful and wanton disregard of consequences, cannot be made the basis of a criminal action.”  The conclusion is a very warped interpretation of the case being use to deflect holding Medina responsible for his action and the personal injury he inflicted to the other driver.

It was also reported that the APD Crash Review Board voted unanimously to deem Medina’s crash “non-preventable.”  Superintendent of Police Reform Eric Garcia said the final report on Medina will be forwarded to the Bernalillo County District Attorney.  A news release sent out later said Garcia would formally request the DOJ independent monitor, James Ginger, evaluate the casework done by Internal Affairs.

The APD Crash Review Board consists of 4 APD Officers and 1 Civilian appointed by Chief Medina. The Commander over APD Traffic is Benito Martinez who was promoted by Chief Medina to Commander.  Martinez is the chairman of the APD Crash Review Board and is considered very loyal to Chief Medina.

Superintendent of Police Reform Eric Garcia advised the council he could not provide any specific grounds for the ruling by the Crash Review Board that the crash was non-preventable” because such finding are not required for “non-preventable” accidents. Garcia said specific findings and grounds are only required with the finding of a “preventable accident.”  Notwithstanding, Garcia told the council he would provide the notes of the APD crash review board that reports on their deliberations and rationale.

At the City Council meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Samantha Sengel said she would ask former Judge Victor Valdez, the City’s  Internal Monitor, to review the full investigation and full case file when ready.

Links to quoted news sourced are here:


It is 2-50 of APD’s Standard Operating Procedures that creates the Crash Review Board. The purpose of the Crash Review Board (CRB) is to review and classify all Albuquerque Police Department-issued vehicle crashes as preventable or non-preventable. The CRB reviews all preventable crashes for cause analysis to prevent similar types of crashes in the future

Section 2-50-3 of APD’s Standard Operating procedures that defines a crash as “An unintended event resulting in injury or damage involving one (1) or more motor vehicles as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and defines a  Non-Crash as Damage caused by an intentional act that is not a crash, under normal driving conditions, which strikes a motor vehicle likely to cause damage this includes, but is not limited to a Pursuit Intervention (PIT) maneuver.”

Section 2-50-3 C  of APD’s Standard Operating procedures defines a “Non-Preventable” crash as  “A crash that involved a motor vehicle that could not have been averted by an act, or failure to act, by the driver when the driver exercised normal judgment and foresight and was unable to avoid it or which steps would have risked causing another kind of mishap.”

Section 2-50-3 D of APD’s Standard Operating procedures defines a “Preventable Crash” as “A crash in which the driver failed to do everything that reasonably could have been  done to avoid the crash, and if a driver, who exercises normal judgment and foresight could have foreseen the possibility of the crash, and avoided it by taking steps within their control which would not have risked causing another kind of mishap.”


On Tuesday, February 20, Chief Medina did a “Chief’s Corner” video briefing which was sent to all APD personnel.  He announced that it was a “special edition” of his Chief’s corner to discuss the February 17 car crash with APD personnel and he gave his version of what happened and what lead up to the crash. Medina said on the video he thought the oncoming Mustang would pass through intersection before he got there.  Medina said in his video statement “I looked to my left, and the intersection was cleared. … And I thought that the car was going to pass before I got there, and it did not, and unfortunately, I struck a vehicle.”

Even though Medina said in his Chief’s Corner video that the traffic was clear on the North Lane on Central traveling West, a released surveillance video shows it was not clear at all and there was oncoming traffic. On February 21, APD released a surveillance video that shows Chief Harold Medina running a red light and crashing into the Ford Mustang seriously injuring the driver of the Mustang.

The surveillance video reveals that the intersection was not clear as Medina proclaimed when Medina ran the red light. The surveillance video shows Medina  cutting  in front of another car before accelerating at a high rate of speed through the intersection. The video shows oncoming traffic with Medina first slowly inching between two vehicles traveling West on the North side lanes of Central and Medina then accelerating to cross to the South traveling lanes of Central at a high rate of speed and crashing into the Mustang that was traveling East on the South lanes of Central.

Medina’s truck drives into oncoming westbound traffic, between two vehicles, one of which appears to stop to avoid a crash. Medina’s truck then accelerates quickly across the two west bound lanes of Central and crashes into the classic Mustang headed east. The man who allegedly fired the gun appeared to watch the crash unfold before running down the sidewalk.

The crash resulted in both vehicles doing a half circle turn in a counterclockwise direction. Medina’s truck came to rest against the southeast corner of the intersection with front end and rear end damage including a collapsed rear wheel reflecting an apparent broken axle. The Mustang was struck on the driver’s side with the door ripped opened and it also struck the south curb just east of the intersection and skid and rolled east for a distance before coming to rest, facing west, in the eastbound lane.


It is downright obscene and an insult to the general public’s intelligence that the APD Crash Review Board voted unanimously to deem Medina’s crash “non-preventable.” Medina could have avoided the entire crash by simply stopping at Central, or turning right to go West on Central, as opposed to flooring gas of his vehicle to go forward going South and attempting to turn left to go East on Central. This would also had the immediate affect of driving his vehicle out of the line of fire with a business building providing an extent of obstruction.

Chief Medina admitted that he ran a red light and T-boned another driver.  The surveillance video shows Medina cutting in front of another car before accelerating at a high rate of speed through the intersection. Medina’s actions and the car crash fit the very definition of reckless driving by a person who “drives any vehicle carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others and without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger … any person or property.” 

Any other APD officer involved in such a crash they are the cause of injuring another would have been charged and immediately and placed on administrative leave pending a full investigation, but not Chief Medina.


Based on all the news accounts and the comments, statements and the admissions against interest and admissions of liability made by Chief Harold Medina, it is clear Medina violated one or more of APD’s Standard Operating Procedures.  Chief Medina has admitted that he did not have his body camera on. Medina has admitted he did not have his police radio on in his truck which is a standard operating procedure violation.  Medina also admitted he did not turn his body camera on in a timely manner which is a violation APD Standard Operating procedures. At no point did Medina have any emergency equipment on during or after the event which is another violation.

The surveillance  video shows Medina did not have his vehicle’s emergency equipment on. The video shows oncoming traffic with Medina first slowly inching between two vehicles and Medina then accelerates to a high rate of speed to cross to the South traveling lanes of Central and crashing into the Mustang that was traveling East on the South lanes of Central.

Medina violated the following APD Standard Operating Procedures:

  1. Chief Medina did not activate his “on body recording device” (OBRD) in a timely manner(Standard  Operating Procedure Section 2-8-4, “Use of On Body Recording Devices” and  2-8-5 “Mandatory Recordings”)
  2. Chief Medina involved his wife in a patrol and enforcement action when he decided to stop and investigate the homeless encampment and it escalated involving a felony resulting in her being placed in harm’s way. Chief Medina’s wife is  not certified for APD ride along. (Standard Operating Procedure 1-6-4 Unauthorized Patrol Ride Along)
  3. Chief Medina  did not take his wife to a safe and convenient location before he attempted to take action and investigate. (Standard Operating Procedure 2-5, 2-5-4)
  4. Chief Medina did not have his vehicles emergency warning equipment engaged when he made the initiate stop to investigate nor when he took off to flee from the scene. (Standard Operating procedure 2-6, 2-6-4)
  5. Chief Medina did not drive his vehicle with due regard for the safety of others and drove with reckless disregard for the safety of others by running a red light and driving his vehicle without the vehicle’s emergency equipment on and when he ran the red light. (Standard Operating Procedure 2-6, 2-6-4)
  6. Chief Medina did not follow Standard Operating Procedures dealing with the investigation of “Crashes Involving Department Issued Vehicles. (Standard Operating Procedure 2-47 deals with “Crashes Involving Department Issued Vehicles”)
  7. Upon information and belief, Chief Medina has not prepared a Uniform Incident Report as required by Standard Operating Procedure. (Standard Operating Procedure 2-7, 2-7-4)


No sworn law enforcement officer, including APD Chief Harold Medina, is above enforcement of police standard operating procedures. A chief must follow standard operating procedures and be held accountable for any violations just like he holds all those officers of lesser rank he manages and even disciplines.

The APD policy for responding to calls says when officers are responding to a call they must “exercise due regard for the safety of all persons and property.” It adds that they have right of way while responding to a call, but it does not relieve them from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all others.

If this was a patrol officer making these same mistakes and violating Standard Operating Procedures, Chief Medina would most likely give them hours of suspension without pay or even flat out terminate them.

In 2017, a police officer was rushing with lights and sirens to a call of a man armed with a machete when a car pulled out in front of him. The person driving that car died in the crash. The city fired the officer and paid more than $3 million in a civil suit.

Air Force vet Ashley Browder was killed when another Albuquerque police officer ran a red light on the west side crashing into her vehicle. The city paid more than $8 million to her family and the officer went to jail.

The APD Crash Review Board voting unanimously to deem Medina’s crash “non-preventable” amounts to nothing more than a cover up of a preventable accident in order to give APD Chief a defense to the charge of reckless driving. It is likely that in any civil lawsuit filed for personal injury by the other driver who was injured, the city will use the finding that the accident was “non-preventable” to shift blame and argue the crash was the result of the other driver’s negligence. The fact that the board is chaired by one of the Chief’s  cronies and members are officer’s subject to Medinas command reflects a level of biasness.  It is reflects that  APD is unable to police itself and that and outside agency needs to investigate.

Chief Medina’s actions of February 17, his violations of APD Standard Operating Procedure and the crash that he has admitted to causing standing alone are sufficient grounds for the City Council to remove him as Chief.  APD Chief Harold Medina must be held 100% responsible for the car crash critically injuring a private citizen and sending him to the hospital.

Chief Medina should be charged with Reckless Driving and be terminated “for cause” for the violations of APD’s Standard Operating procedures. The City Council should move immediately to remove Chief Harold Medina sooner rather than later given Mayor Tim Keller’s blind loyalty to a police chief he is not willing to remove for cause and his failed leadership of APD.

Albuquerque City Councilor Louie Sanchez needs to amend his Resolution To Remove Chief Medina and add greater more detail on Medina’s mismanagement of APD and also include details of the February 17 crash Medina caused. Perhaps then the Albuquerque City Council will fully realize that Chief Medina needs to be terminated.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.