On Saturday, February 17, Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina and his wife were in an unmarked APD truck when the APD vehicle crashed into a classic Mustang after Medina ran a red light as he tried to avoid gunfire on East Central. The driver of the Mustang was taken to a hospital in critical condition but according to an APD spokesman the driver is expected to make a full recovery.
REPORTED CAR CRASH AND SHOOTING
APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said Medina and his wife were driving to a news conference to be with Mayor Tim Keller sometime before 9:15 a.m. when Medina saw a homeless encampment on Alvarado, north of Central. The planned news conference was scheduled for 10 a.m. outside Adam Food Market convenience store known for crime and homelessness at Central and Pennsylvania. Medina and Keller were going to talk about addressing crime around the store, which has been the site of several homicides, a police shooting and open-air drug use. The news conference was postponed as Keller and APD officials gathered at the site of the crash.
Gallegos said Medina and his wife were driving to the news conference when Medina saw a homeless encampment on Alvarado, north of Central. Gallegos said it appeared to Medina that the encampment was blocking the sidewalk. APD and city workers have for the past year have been stepping up enforcement against unhoused encampments.
Gallegos said Medina parked his truck on Alvarado, facing Central, to call and request that officers remove the encampment. Gallegos reported that Medina was in the process of notifying the commander of the area so they could remove the encampment when 2 people started physically fighting. Gallegos said a fight broke out between 2 men on the sidewalk west of Medina’s truck and one of the men pulled out a gun and fired at least once at the other man. It is unclear if the fight and subsequent shooting was related to an encampment or those living on the streets.
APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said this:
“As [Chief Medina] was turning on his police radio to call it out, he noticed that one of them brandished a gun. One person kicked the other individual and that individual started firing shots in the direction of where the chief was in his truck. … That’s when [Medina’s] wife saw the muzzle of the gun pointed at them… They heard the shot fired [and Chief Medina] stepped on the gas to get out of the situation. … At that point, the chief pulled forward in his vehicle. Another car was coming in a different direction, and they crashed into each other. … Investigators [have] located one bullet casing, which is being tested to determine if the gun has been involved in any other shootings.”
Gallegos said Chief Medina was in the direct line of fire and tried to drive away, but as he took off, he hit a Ford Mustang on the driver’s side door. The Mustang struck a curb and skid down the road. Police say Chief Medina went to the driver’s aid, however, that driver was seriously injured and was taken to UNM Hospital.
According to Gallegos, the driver of the Mustang is currently in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery. ShotSpotter technology detected a single shot and investigators found one bullet casing, which is being tested.
Gallegos said nobody was injured by the gunfire and APD is looking over video footage and interviewing witnesses to find the person who fired the shots. APD says they’re searching for the 2 men involved in the fight in that both men fled the scene
According to APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos, APD investigators determined the driver of the Mustang had a green light at the time of the accident. Ostensibly Medina ran a red light and drove into the intersection at Central and Alvarado NE and hit the driver’s side of the Mustang with the right front side of his APD issued truck. After the crash, the shooter ran and the person who was shot at “stuck around for a little bit” before leaving. He said Medina checked on the other driver and used his radio to call for an ambulance.
Chief Medina and his wife were not hurt in the crash and Gallegos said this:
“Chief Medina is okay his wife’s okay. You know it was a scary incident and unfortunately one individual was injured during the car crash so we’re keeping an eye on him and he’s an adult male, we hope he’s okay.”
Gallegos said Medina took a breathalyzer and drug test after the crash and asked the Superintendent of Police Reform to open an Internal Affairs review because he did not turn on his lapel camera during the incident.
MAYOR KELLER REACTS
At 11:06 am, close to 2 hours after the incident, Mayor Tim Keller posted on his official TWITTER account the following:
“Today @ABQPoliceChief [Medina] was checking on an encampment when a gun was pulled during a fight. He was in a car crash getting out of the line of fire, but thankfully he is okay. I’m grateful four our Chief and officers who put their lives on the line every day to make our city safe.”
11:06 AM Feb 17, 2024 2,833 Views
Mayor Tim Keller reacted to the incident by saying this to the news media:
“[Getting the call about the crash was] one of those types of calls that I dread. … It always starts with, ‘There’s been an altercation with an officer, there’s been a shooting,’ and then I hear it’s the chief. So that is the worst way I ever want to start the day. … Fortunately, in this case, I quickly learned he was OK. … [Chief Medina is] arguably the most important person right now in these times in our city. … [The shooting incident is an example of] why we are never quitting when it comes to trying to make our city safer. … But it’s hard. It is extremely hard. It affects everyone, including our chief of police on a Saturday morning.”
Mayor Tim Keller also commented on Chief’s actions by saying this:
“This is actually him on a Saturday morning, disrupting an altercation, a shooting, trying to do what’s right, trying to make sure that folks are okay after on scene. This is above and beyond what you expect from a chief, and I’m grateful for Harold Medina. … For us, we need to continue that clarion call for at every single level to do everything we can to make our city safer. We don’t know any details, but would not be surprised if there was fentanyl, or whatever other illegal substance could have been exchanged. These are the kinds of things that we absolutely have to address. And this is not going to change unless we have major steps that we can take at every level.”
Links to quoted news sources are here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The general public can be thankful that Chief Medina and his wife were not seriously injured. However, the general public should be very concerned about the fate of the injured driver and the extent of personal injury and property damages caused to the driver by Chief Medina.
It was reported that the injured driver had a green light which means Medina ran a red light and was at fault. From the looks of the news coverage, significant damage was done to the victims Mustang, it is probably totaled and the significant damage was also done to Medina’s vehicle. Medina’s SUV is a department issued vehicle and as such has a high-end value of probably upwards of $75,000 and equipped with law enforcement equipment. Medina’s city vehicle is also likely totaled.
Then there is the matter of the extent of personal injury suffered by driver of the Mustang. It was reported the driver was in “critical condition” and taken to the hospital yet APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos proclaimed the injured driver is expected to have a “speady recovery” without disclosing the actual extent of the victim’s injuries.
Keller totally ignored and did not even mention the innocent driver of the Mustang who was hit by Medina. Keller did not even mention Chief Medina’s wife nor express any concern for her as well. What is downright embarrassing and pathetic is the lengths to which Mayor Tim Keller went to praise Chief Harold Medina for his actions especially when he said “[Chief Medina is] arguably the most important person right now in these times in our city.” Medina is only the most important person to Keller within the city because city hall observers keep asking what does Medina have on Keller?
QUESTIONS BEGGING FOR ANSWERS
Based on all the news accounts and the comments made by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos, APD Chief Harold Medina has in fact violated one or more of APD’s Standard Operating Procedures that would lead to disciplinary action against any rank-and-file police officer when violated. The POSTSCRIPT to this blog article outlines the Standard Operating Procedures Chief Medina likely violated directly or indirectly.
There are any number of questions that need to be answered that relate to Chief Medina’s car crash and violating APD’s standard operating procedures:
- Why was Medina’s wife going with him at 9:15 am to attend a 10:00 AM news conference with Mayor Keller? Was she approved as an APD ride along for patrols?
- When Medina decided to investigate the homeless encampment, why did he not engage his vehicle’s emergency lights or siren equipment?
- Medina admitted he was taking an enforcement action by calling it in but why did he not make any effort to take his wife to a safe and convenient location as required by standard operating procedures before he attempted take action against the encampment?
- Why did Chief Medina not have his lapel camera on which he admitted which is serious violation of Standard Operating procedure?
- Police officers involved in car accidents with their vehicles are required to take breathalyzer and drug test within one hour of the car accident. APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said Chief Medina took a breathalyzer and drug test after the crash, but he did not say when and where the tests were administered nor what the results were.
- Will a complete Uniform Incident report be made and release to the public, including interviews of witnesses, and who will prepare it?
It is somewhat comical that Superintendent of Police Reform is being asked to open an Internal Affairs on APD Chief Medina. The truth is that is not the Superintendent’s responsibility to do such investigations and the responsibility is to review completed cases. It’s an investigation that should be done by another law enforcement agency such as the Bernalillo County Sherriff’s Office or the NM State Police to ensure complete objectivity and avoid any conflicts of interest.
NO CHIEF IS EXEMPT FROM STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES
No sworn law enforcement officer, including a Police Chief 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.
This whole crash incident further erodes the credibility of Chief Medina and Mayor Tim Keller whose reputations have already been damaged to a great extent by the ongoing Federal Investigation of the entire DWI Unit that has been implicated in a bribery and conspiracy scheme involving a prominent DWI defense attorney to dismiss cases.
PLACE MEDINA ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE
Keller does himself no favors as he blindly promotes the merits of an incompetent Chief of Police. Mayor Keller should immediately place APD Chief Harold Medina on Administrative Leave until a complete investigation of the crash and an incident report is prepared. Mayor Keller should also ask the Bernalillo County Sheriff or State Police to investigate and prepare final reports on the car crash.
If Mayor Keller does not act against Medina, the City Council should step in and seek to terminate Chief Medina.
Below are the Standard Operating Procedures that were likely violated in the Medina auto crash:
APD STANARD OPERATING PROCEDURES
It is Standard Operating Procedure 1-6 the deals with the APD “Patrol Ride Along Program”
1-6-4 entitled Rules outlines ride alongs with police.
Eligibility for Participation in the Patrol Ride-Along Program
- The Patrol Ride-Along Program is neither a public relations program nor is it intended to satisfy a community member’s curiosity about police work.
- Professional Staff members and community members are permitted to participate in patrol ride-alongs for the purpose of meeting their training and educational needs.
- A professional staff member or community member who wants to participate in the Patrol Ride-Along Program must be eligible for the Department’s Volunteer Program or Internship Program, consistent with SOP Volunteer and internship Programs …
Unauthorized Patrol Ride-Along
Officers and PSAs shall abide by the Patrol Ride-Along requirements prior to authorizing any community member or professional staff member to ride along on patrol.
It is 2-5 of APD Standard Operating Procedures that deal with use of APD issued department vehicles. Section 2-5-4 specifically deals with General Procedures For Department-Issue Vehicles and provides in part:
1. When operating a Department-issued vehicle, sworn personnel shall:
A. Have their police radio on and tuned to the proper frequency for their location;
B. While on-call, carry all necessary equipment for a call-out;
C. Consistent with SOP Personnel Code of Conduct and SOP Uniforms, have in their possession a jacket or vest that clearly displays the Department insignia, their badge, identification card, handcuffs, body armor, radio, on-body recording device (OBRD), and firearm to effectively perform a police function. …
D. When responding to a felony call with non-sworn personnel as passenger(s), except for approved ride-along, first drop off the passenger(s) at a convenient and safe location, then respond to the call consistent with Department Standard Operating Procedures (SOP);
It is 2-6 of APD Standard Operating Procedures that deals with Use of Emergency Warning Equipment.
Section 2-6-4 entitled Procedures states as follows:
Authority for Code Response.
When sworn personnel respond to an emergency call, or when in pursuit of an individual who has violated or is suspected of violating a law, sworn personnel shall be authorized to exercise the right-of-way privilege , pursuant to the New Mexico state statute on authorized emergency vehicles, if the officer is driving an authorized emergency vehicle and properly using authorized emergency warning equipment.
This authority does not:
- Relieve the officer who is driving an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of others; or
2. Protect the officer from the consequences of reckless disregard for the safety of others.
It is 2-7 of APDs Standard Operating procedures that deals with DAMAGE TO CIVILIAN PROPERTY
Section 2-7-2 entitled Policy provides:
It is the policy of the Department to document when Department personnel damage civilian property … during the course of their official duties.
Section 2-7-4 entitled Procedures provides:
- Civilian property may include, but is not limited to:
When Department personnel damage civilian property, they shall:
- Complete a Uniform Incident Report documenting the damage;
- If the primary officer caused the damage, they shall document the information in their Uniform Incident Report.
- If another officer caused the damage, they shall document the information in a Supplemental Report.
It is 2-8 of APD’s standard operating procedures that deals with “USE OF ON-BODY RECORDING DEVICES”
Section 2-8-4 entitled Rules provides as follows:
All uniformed and plainclothes sworn personnel, Police Service Aides (PSA), Crime Scene Specialists (CSS), PTU personnel, and all uniformed personnel shall wear a Department-issued OBRD while on-duty. Exceptions to wearing the OBRD include:
- Written approval by the Chief of Police, which will be limited to Department personnel who do not routinely interact with the public and only when those personnel are not engaging in law enforcement or investigative encounters with the public, including any mandatory recording events. Notwithstanding this exception, all Department personnel shall record mandatory recording events.
- During training, unless required to wear the OBRD for training purposes;
- Bomb Squad personnel, while actively working a scene with suspicious or hazardous items; and
- Any duty assignment where sworn personnel do not carry a Department-issued badge and firearm, including restricted duty, administrative assignment, or administrative leave.
Section 2-8-5 of APD’s standard operating procedures delineates “Mandatory Recordings” by APD sworn personnel and provides as follows:
- Department personnel shall activate their OBRD [ON BODY RECORDING DEVICE] for any call for service that involves a law enforcement encounter, for any other law enforcement encounters that involve contact with community members, and for any investigative encounters involving community members.
- For all mandatory recording events, Department personnel shall activate their OBRD prior to contact with individuals, except during emergency situations that require immediate action to preserve life or safety. At the first available opportunity, Department personnel shall activate their OBRD immediately.
- Examples of mandatory recording events include, but are not limited to: Law enforcement encounters; Traffic crashes;
Standard Operating Procedure 2-47 deals with “Crashes Involving Department Issued Vehicles”
2-47-4 outlines the following Procedures:
General Procedures for Crashes that Involve Department-Issued Vehicle Department personnel who are Involved in the crash shall:
A. Request Albuquerque Fire Rescue (AFR) for any injuries;
B. Secure the scene to prevent further damage;
C. Preserve evidence;
D. Request that an on-duty supervisor respond to the scene of the crash;
E. Request for an available officer or Police Service Aide (PSA) to be dispatched to investigate the crash and to complete a Uniform Crash Report (UCR) to include the vehicle or unit number on the UCR diagram or narrative;
F. The responding officer or PSA who completes the UCR shall gather sufficient information concerning the cause of the crash to testify at the Crash Review Board (CRB) Hearing, if necessary; and
- Request for a supervisor, a Crime Scene Specialist (CSS), or a Police Service Aide (PSA) to photograph the crash.
- Photographs shall include close-ups, mid-ranges, and the overall scene.
- Photographs shall be tagged into evidence as outlined in SOP Collection, Submission, and Disposition of Evidence and Property (refer to SOP Collection, Submission, and Disposition of Evidence and Property).
- Supervisors with Axon training may take the photographs for non-injury crash investigations.
G. The investigating supervisor shall:
- Determine whether the crash involves serious personal injury, death, or substantial damage to any involved Department personnel or the Department-issued vehicle before clearing the scene of the crash;
2. Notify the following personnel to respond to the scene of the crash if it involves life-threatening injuries or death:
i. Internal Affairs Professional Standards (IAPS) Division investigative personnel;
ii . An on-duty CSS; and
iii. The on-call Metro Traffic Division Fatal Traffic Team supervisor.
3. Based on the damage to the Department-issued vehicle and the extent of injuries, determine whether the on-call Metro Traffic Division Fatal Traffic Team will investigate the crash;
4. Ensure that all crashes involving Department-issued vehicles, no matter how minor, are documented in a UCR;
5. Submit an Internal Affairs (IA) database web application entry for vehicle crashes, which includes copies of the completed UCR and City of Albuquerque Substance Abuse Program Post-Accident Decision Making Form;
6. Forward the completed UCR and the City of Albuquerque Substance Abuse Program Post-Accident Decision Making Forms to the lieutenant or division head within five (5) calendar days;
7. Examine any damage to Department-issued vehicles and physical evidence present to ensure that there is consistency with the reported circumstances; and
8. Determine whether the Department-issued vehicle is safe enough to remain in service or if the vehicle should be transported to the City of Albuquerque Fleet Management (Pino Yards) at 5501 Pino Ave NE.
9. The on-scene supervisor or investigating officer may allow the involved vehicles to be moved if they impede the safe flow of traffic.
10. The on-scene supervisor or investigating officer may only allow the vehicles to be moved from the scene for non-injury crashes or when moving the vehicles does not significantly impact the investigation.
11. Operations Review Section personnel shall review the UCR and the IA database web application entry for accuracy and to ensure that all required documents are attached to the IA database web application entry.
12. After reviewing the UCR and the IA database web application entry, the Operations Review Section Fleet Coordinator shall:
Send the IA database web application entry information to IAPS Division personnel; and
Forward the UCR to the Metro Traffic Division Administrative Assistant.