West Mesa victim laid to rest

West Mesa victim laid to rest

There are 76 comments on the KOB.com Eyewitness News 4 - New Mexico story from Jul 7, 2009, titled West Mesa victim laid to rest. In it, KOB.com Eyewitness News 4 - New Mexico reports that:

The remains of one of the 11 women whose bodies were found buried on Albuquerque's Southwest Mesa earlier this year was laid to rest Tuesday morning.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at KOB.com Eyewitness News 4 - New Mexico.

Margaret Aunt of Michelle

Maiden, NC

#21 Jul 8, 2009
the elements wrote:
<quoted text>
From what I read, some of the families did go to the media and the media would not help them. And the majority of the missing were from here. There was an article in the Journal about 3yrs ago about the missing women, but that article did not come out until the family of the only anglo girl went missing. And they weren't even from here. They were from Texas and they came here because this was the last place they heard she may be. They still haven't found here either.
Her name is Leah Peebles,she moved to Alb. and was only there a couple of weeks...then vanished 2006.As of this date there is nothing to lead her parents to her where abouts / or what happened. She had just gotton a job,that she never got to start.
Margaret Aunt of Michelle

Maiden, NC

#22 Jul 8, 2009
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#23 Jul 8, 2009

When the supervisor of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Cold Case Squad criticized the grieving mother of a homicide victim for questioning the actions of “an impeccable police department,” the families of over a dozen New Mexico murder victims decided to take a long look at that “impeccable” department, as well as otherfraid to speak out against their colleagues and supervisors for fear of retaliation against themselves or their loved ones.

Police in New Mexico have a long and on-going track record of murder, bank robbery, kidnapping, extortion, sex crimes, burglary, drug dealing, aggravated battery, auto theft, fraud, brutality, entrapment, the planting and/or destruction of evidence, intimidation of witnesses, and – above all – the cover-up of crimes committed by police officers. According to the battered wife of Deputy Scott Finley, a member of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department’s elite Crime Suppression Unit, when she threatened to call 911 to report a vicious beating, her husband’s response was:“Go ahead and call. How can you break the law when you are the law?”

This corruption is in no way limited to cops on the street. It exists at management levels and extends to the very top echelons of New Mexico law enforcement:

v Lt. John B. Gallegos, supervisor of the APD Internal Affairs Unit, was caught burglarizing a liquor store while on duty.

v Deputy Darryl Burt, senior officer in the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department Gang Unit, was charged with kidnapping, criminal sexual penetration, and other felonies in connection with the traffic stop of a 24-yr-old male, as well as 34 counts of sexual assault and extortion of a 16-yr-old boy. He was also found guilty of drug trafficking charges.

v APD Officer Andrew LeHocky sicced his 80-pound attack dog on a homeless woman who was asleep at the time. This was the same Andrew LeHocky who had just been named “Officer of the Month.”

§ APD Sgt. Mike Garcia, supervisor of officers assigned to public schools, was indicted on sex charges involving a 12-yr-old girl who was staying the night with one of his daughters.(When he was tried in 2004, the jury was deadlocked, and the prosecutors did not seek a retrial.)

v The APD Intelligence Unit, under the supervision of Sgt. Joseph Polisar, was accused of illegally creating and maintaining secret dossiers on innocent political figures. The only possible use for such dossiers would be to exert influence and pressure on those politicians. When the existence of the dossiers became known, they were burned to prevent their inspection. Sgt. Polisar was subsequently elevated to Chief of Police.

The following abbreviated overview of corruption in New Mexico law enforcement is merely the tip of the iceberg. Since information from Internal Affairs investigations is not available to the public, and a 1997 study revealed that the City of Albuquerque routinely set aside $4 million a year to settle malfeasance claims out of court, there has never been a way for the average citizen to have any idea of the full extent of what goes on beyond the “Blue Wall of Silence.” It’s our hope that the families who have contributed cases to this report may be able to shine a pinpoint of light on those activities by sharing their personal horror stories, which are set in the framework of this overview.

When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#24 Jul 8, 2009

Highlighted entries represent a selection of cases from the New Mexico Justice Packet, a compilation of reports by families of New Mexico homicide victims who contend that their loved ones’ cases were not thoroughly and/or honestly investigated by New Mexico law enforcement – local police, state police, or sheriff’s department. Professional writers, publishers, and TV producers, who have an authentic interest in doing stories based on individual cases or on the Justice Project as a whole, can be placed in touch with the families through their private investigators.

9/80: APD Officer Joseph Polisar,(who later became Albuquerque Police Chief) was assigned to investigate the death of his friend, Phil Chacon, killed in the line of duty during a bank robbery. Polisar’s two-day investigation led to a civil rights suit against him and two other officers for planting evidence and coercing witnesses in an attempt to convict Van Robinson, a black male. In 1985, Robinson was acquitted, and a Federal Grand Jury awarded him $75,000.(Before Polisar was made police chief, the findings against him were reversed.)

1/1/81: Governor Bruce King pardoned former APD Officer Robert Earl Davis for 1970’s offenses, some committed while he was a police officer. In 1976, Officer Davis was arrested in a stolen car and in possession of drugs. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 5 years,(changed to probation by DA Steve Schiff, who said Davis was unlikely to repeat such an offense). Later Davis was charged with operating a crime ring with three other APD officers fired in the 1970s for ripping off people they arrested. Davis was also a suspect in several 1970's homicides. The four ex-cops admitted to a 6-year, multi-state crime spree, involving more than $1,000,000. The over-1,000 crimes they committed included robberies, auto theft, homicides, and drugs. This time Davis was sentenced to 14 years. Gov. King later rescinded the Davis pardon.

9/81: APD undercover officers, John Hearn and Greg Avila, were working a suspected vehicle theft ring when they got into a shootout with one of the suspects, Frank Minott. Minott testified that he shot at Officer Avila in self-defense after Avila fired at him. Officer Avilla’s blood alcohol level was three times higher thaN the legal requirement for intoxication. A female witness testified that Avila tried to force his way into her bedroom, tried to grope another girl present, and tried to stab a cat with a pitchfork, saying he “was hungry.” Minott testified that he told Avila to stop hurting the women and Avila said,“What are you going to do about it?”, Minott pushed Avila away, and Avila pulled a knife. Then Hearn got involved, and Minott said he feared that Hearn would hold him down while Avila cut him, so he ran to the house and Avila fired a gun at him. Minott got to a gun and fired back at Avila, wounding him twice. Minott was found guilty of assault with intent to commit a violent felony. Chief Whitey Hansen told the press (in regard to the actions of the two officers),“When you’re in Rome, you do as the Romans do.” He said there are no guidelines or rules for undercover officers

1/30/84: Criminal Case: State v. Charles William Holman, et al., Sex Club of Albuquerque: A list of people involved in this party/prostitution club included police officers, state legislators, lawyers, and judges. APD Officer John Carillo testified about his participation in the sex club.
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#25 Jul 8, 2009
Thanksgiving Day, 1984: State Police Officer Matt Griffin attempted to force his way into Febye Garcia’s mobile home as the family was sitting down to dinner. When Garcia resisted, Griffin pulled out his can of Mace, struck the woman on the nose with it, and then sprayed her directly in the eyes. Griffin then resigned from the State Police and joined the Albuquerque Police Department.

2/16/85: CURTIS LINDSEY HOMICIDE (Albq. PD): Curtis was stabbed in the back in broad daylight. He stumbled across the street to a 7-11 store and collapsed on the floor. APD Officer Ronald Merriman (see “Kaitlyn Arquette Case” and “Benny Esquivel Case”) was dispatched to the scene, as was the Fire Department. The medics later testified that Officer Merriman refused to allow them to treat Curtis until he finished interrogating him. Curtis bled to death at the scene. Curtis was schizophrenic and used marijuana as a type of self-medication. His father, Victor Lindsey, says APD shrugged off the murder as “just one drug addict killing another.” When it became apparent there would be no investigation, Victor set out to solve the case himself. Witnesses and informants led him to the killer, Javier Escalera. Victor gave his information to a friend in law enforcement, who pressured the case detectives to follow up on it. Eventually Escalera was arrested and convicted. Victor sued the City of Albuquerque, the Fire Department, and Officer Merriman for medical malpractice at the scene. The case was settled out of court.

1/12/86: LINDA DANIELS ABDUCTION AND HOMICIDE: Linda was abducted for use in porno films, raped, tortured, and then shot to death. James Scartaccini, the one of Linda’s abductors that evidence indicated was her killer, was allowed to plea bargain by testifying against his companions. The police and the DA prosecutor “lost” all evidence against Scartaccini, including his sperm sample, which was later found on the DA prosecutor’s desk. Scartaccini served no time at all.

10/31/86: APD Officer Matt Griffin knocked on the apartment door of Ralph Narducci in response to a loud noise report. When Narducci asked to see his identification, Griffin beat him on the head and face. Narducci was hospitalized. His lawsuit against the city was settled for $35,000.

3/1/87: APD Officer Matt Griffin, moonlighting as night manager at Pinon Trails Apts., refused to cooperate with APD officers executing a warrant for Sam Elliott, a suspect in the drug murder of Bobby Dytzel. Griffin refused to identify the apartment where Elliott was staying. Elliott later pled guilty to murdering Dytzel. Griffin was suspended for one day without pay for his refusal to help the officers and for failing to disclose his outside job.

1987: APD Officer Toby Gallegos was given a 20-day suspension for unjustifiably shooting a teen-ager he was chasing on foot.

5/10/87: Albuquerque Journal: Land Commissioner, Jim Baca, former candidate for mayor of Albuquerque, disclosed that during his campaign Albuquerque Police Chief Sam Baca had offered to show him a secret intelligence file on his opponent, Ken Schultz.(Chief Baca denied that.) Jim Baca said he refused to accept the file. He said there was a need for exposure of rampant politics within the Albuquerque Police Department and that APD Chief Sam Baca was a victim of that “incestuous” system.
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#26 Jul 8, 2009
7/4/87: Convicted APD Officer Robert Earl Davis and four other men escaped from Santa Fe Prison. Davis later stated that Corrections Officer Lt. David Owens smuggled in a gun to help with the escape.

10/1/87: Former Chief Justice William Riordan, the City’s first independent councilor, found that the APD Intelligence Unit, under the supervision of APD Sgt. Joseph Polisar, had been secretly stockpiling information on local residents not suspected of wrong doing.(The Unit was supposed to be gathering intelligence on motorcycle gangs, organized crime, terrorists and other criminal activity.)

10/6/87: Gene Romo, City Councilor, ordered APD Chief Sam Baca to “fix” APD’s problems and gave him 120 days to do so, at which time Chief Baca’s performance would be evaluated by a special panel. Chief Baca termed Romo’s plan “harsh.”

10/22/87: City Attorney Pat Bryan told investigators that he was present when APD Chief Sam Baca offered secret intelligence file information to Jim Baca. Tapes of investigators’ interview with Chief Baca suddenly became “missing.”

11/18/87: APD Officer Matt Griffin was fired by Police Chief Sam Baca for refusing to return a $75 witness fee for a case in which he never testified.

1/29/88: SPRING MILLER HOMICIDE:(Albuquerque PD) Spring, 16, was run down by a truck. Spring’s younger sister, April,(see “April Miller Case”), was with her at the time. The girls had gone for a walk, and as they approached the entrance to an apartment complex, they noticed a truck poised to leave the parking lot. They stopped, but the driver motioned them to cross in front of him. When they reached the middle of the driveway, he grinned and stomped on the accelerator. He ran over Spring’s head with both front and rear right tires, and ran over April’s legs. At that time, the APD Homicide Unit was involved with several high profile murders,(including the Darcy Pierce case), so the investigation of Spring’s death was relegated to traffic officers. Although there were a number of witnesses and the suspect matched the description of Martin Martinez, who was arrested several month later for deliberately running down joggers in that same area of town, Martinez was not charged with Spring’s death.

1/2/88: APD Officer Matt Griffin, disguised as a ninja, robbed NM Federal Savings and Loan and fled in a stolen Camero with a National Guard license plate.

3/88: APD rehired Officer Matt Griffin after his attorney cut a deal with the city. Police Chief Sam Baca later stated that he didn’t want to rehire Griffin, but did so on the advice of his legal adviser and the city Legal Department.

6/28/88: APD Officer Matt Griffin, the “Ninja Bandit,” committed another bank robbery and made his getaway in a stolen Camero with Colorado Tags.

7/88: A 9 mm Glock semiautomatic handgun disappeared from the Police Department’s evidence room while APD Officer Matt Griffin was assigned to guard it.

9/21/88: APD Officer Matt Griffin committed another bank robbery and made his getaway in a stolen Camero.

1/19/89: APD Officer Matt Griffin robbed First Interstate Bank and made his getaway in a stolen Camero.
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#27 Jul 8, 2009
4/3/89: APD Officer Matt Griffin shot and killed Michael Howard, a resident of Cibola Village Apts., when Howard caught Griffin in the parking lot attempting to steal his car.

4/18/89: The “Ninja Bandit” robbed Sun County Savings a second time.

7/10/89: APD Officer Matt Griffin was revealed to be the “Ninja Bandit,” and was arrested for five bank robberies and the slaying of Michael Howard.

7/16/89: KAITLYN ARQUETTE HOMICIDE (Albq. PD): Kaitlyn, 18, was chased down in her car and shot to death. The first officer at the scene, Det. Ronald Merriman,(see “Benny Esquivel Case” and “Curtis Lindsey Case”), called in a report of an accident with no injuries. Police allowed Paul Apodaca, a man with a record of violent assaults on women, who was at the scene when Merriman arrived, to leave the scene without questioning or even getting contact information. Police then left the scene themselves. Rescue almost missed the scene because there was no one there to wave them over – just Kaitlyn all alone in her car with her brains blown out. Kaitlyn’s death was classified as a “random drive-by shooting,” despite strong physical evidence that Kaitlyn was deliberately murdered and strong indicators that she was preparing to blow the whistle on interstate crime that involved her estranged Vietnamese boyfriend, Dung Nguyen, and his cohorts. The activities of that group included car wreck insurance fraud, drug dealing, arson, the theft and sale of computer chips, and illegal naturalization. When APD dropped off the unsolved case in 1991, Kaitlyn’s mother, Lois Duncan, wrote a book, Who Killed My Daughter?, to prevent the facts of the case from becoming buried. The media blitz that followed led to an influx of new information, which APD has declined to follow up on because it doesn’t support their random shooting scenario.

12/89: Police Chief Sam Baca informed an INS agent that Kaitlyn Arquette was killed by a Vietnamese gang. The homicide department then closed the Arquette case as a random shooting by Hispanic subjects. DA Bob Schwartz refused to prosecute the Hispanics due to a lack of evidence and because APD’s “eye-witness” was in jail on the night of the murder. Schwartz directed the police to investigate the Vietnamese suspects. The police did not do so.

Chief Sam Baca left APD, and was replaced by Chief Bob Stover.

10/5/90: APD Narcotics Det. Stan Gloria stated that he had knowledge of drug activity at a particular address. He applied for a warrant for a nighttime search of the residence of “Manuel (LAST NAME UNKNOWN), Description: "Spanish" (sic) male, 40-45 years old, medium height, heavy set,” claiming this man had a long criminal record, although – not knowing the man’s name, DOB, or SS#-- there was no way Gloria could have known about any criminal record
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#28 Jul 8, 2009
10/12/90: Armed with a warrant obtained thru false information, Narcotics Detective Stan Gloria, Lieutenant Hughes, SGT Bartram (sic- Bertram), Officers R. Vasquez, R. Jeffrey, W. Jones, E. Sauer, B. Snow, A. Lehocky, Lieutanant Bourgoine, S. Gray, S. Rodriguez, H. Terry, T. McWhorter, C. Lopez and four US NAVY SEALS went to the home of Manuel Ramirez, at about 4:30 a.m. There they attached a cable to a tow truck and pulled the wrought iron front door off the Ramirez residence, while other personnel simultaneously broke all of the windows of the Ramirez home. As Ramirez reached for a handgun,(which wasn’t loaded), the collection of officers entered unannounced and dressed in black and shot Ramirez twice in the chest. They ransacked the family home, while Ramirez lay dead in his living room and his grieving family sat in the back of an APD Patrol Car. No drugs were found in the residence until 48 hours after the break in. The Ramirez's infant was injured in his crib by flying glass. Ramirez’s widow filed a lawsuit against the City in 1992 and received a $275,000 settlement.

4/7/91: Albuquerque Journal: Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy, Darryl Burt, recently named senior officer in the BCSO Gang Unit, was accused of forcing a 24-yr-old, male, Mexican national to submit to forced sex acts in a BCSO vehicle and threatening the victim with a gun.

4/23/91: APD Officers James Torres and Stan Gloria went into an apartment to sell 100 lbs. of marijuana for $60,000. They were posing as drug dealers in order to take the money of real drug dealers. Torres went into the apartment alone and the suspects pulled a gun on him and tied him up. A suspect then pulled a gun on Gloria, who was waiting in the parking lot. Nearby police were alerted and came to the rescue. The suspects were tried and convicted. In 1997, Torres and Gloria were awarded medals.

5/31/91: Albuquerque Tribune: Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office investigated allegations made by a convicted drug dealer that Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies provided drugs to transvestite prostitutes in return for sexual favors. The drug dealer, serving a sentence in federal prison, has a history of cooperating with law enforcement agencies.

9-10/91: LINK TO THE KAITLYN ARQUETTE HOMICIDE: An informant told APD that the auto-body shop on Arno,(hangout for APD Officer Matt Griffin and fellow officers), was a distribution point for large amounts of cocaine. The informant identified a subject, Maria Alcala, as making deliveries in a truck with an unknown male, later identified as Michael Arellano, son of the owner of the body shop. Alcala and Arellano were surveilled to 824 Arno NE, as were Consuela Santillanes and Pedro Alcala Jr. Surveillance also noted a high level of traffic in/out of the business within a short period of time, consistent with narcotics trafficking
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#29 Jul 8, 2009
10/3/91: LINK TO THE KAITLYN ARQUETTE HOMICIDE: Execution of search warrant for cocaine trafficking were executed at 824 Arno NE and 332 Estancia NW. Pedro Alcala was arrested at 332 Estancia NW and later pled guilty. Michael Arellano (son of the owner of the body shop) and Maria Alcala had apparently been alerted to the raid and left the shop, heading to Nevada, just before APD, FBI, ATF officers arrived to execute the search warrant. Cocaine, trafficking paraphernalia and money were seized at 332 Estancia NW. Drugs and guns were seized at 824 Arno.

1/29/92: APD Officer Andrew Lehocky was sued for violating the civil rights of Kenneth Wayne Tortolita. Although no further information regarding this case is available, the case was settled for an undisclosed sum of money on 9/10/1992.

2/22/92: Albuquerque Journal: District Court Judge ordered Bernalillo County Sheriff Ray Gallagher to keep members of his Crime Suppression Unit away from witnesses in the sexual assault case against BCSO Deputy Darryl Burt and asked prosecutors to prepare written court orders to be served on Detectives Ed Pacheco and John Sharkey. Witnesses, Willie and Daniel Apodaca, complained of witness intimidation. Sheriff Gallagher admitted to having destroyed evidence in the case against Deputy Burt

5/13/92: APD Officer Andrew Lehocky was sued when his police dog attacked Sheldon Waddles, a peaceful demonstrator at a rally (and the son of a local fire chief). The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum of money.

6/19/92: Former APD Officer Robert Davis assisted murderer, Thomas Wayne Crump, to escape from Torrance County Jail. Crump used a car owned by Davis’s wife, in exchange for a promise that Crump would kill Davis’s enemies on the outside.

1993: APD Officer Toby Gallegos was fired by Police Chief Bob Stover for hitting a
car-chase suspect in the back of the head with his nightstick. Gallegos said he didn’t remember doing that, and the firing was rescinded in favor of a 60-day suspension.

5/28/93: SAL MARTINEZ HOMICIDE (Albq. PD): Sal had to work late and arrived at a bachelor party close to midnight. He was shot as soon as he walked in the door. Sal was still alive when police got there, but the officers would not perform CPR because they had forgotten their plastic mouthpieces. Sal’s killer, Darryl Fowler, fled the party, but later turned himself in on the advice of his attorney, who assured him nothing would happen to him. The attorney was right. APD said they couldn’t charge Fowler because he claimed self-defense, although Sal wasn’t carrying a weapon, nor was anyone else at the party except Fowler. Informants told Sal’s mother that Fowler was a drug supplier for a VIP in law enforcement and had many friends at APD. Since police refused to arrest Fowler, Sal’s parents sued him for wrongful death. At the hearing, Fowler admitted to shooting Sal, but said,“I didn’t know I killed him and I don’t know where the gun is.” In 1999, Sal’s parents were awarded a settlement, but the DA dismissed criminal charges. The DA wouldn’t say why. The family says he refused to talk to them at all.
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#30 Jul 8, 2009
8/29/93: NATHAN ROMERO HOMICIDE (Albq. PD): Nathan was chased down by three vehicles, stabbed, and left to die in the street. He was found with a Vietnamese medallion clutched in his hand, apparently snatched from his killer during the struggle. APD did not collect that evidence from the coroner, who gave it to Nathan’s mother, Linda Gutierrez. Linda rounded up witnesses to the stabbing, who identified members of the Asian gang that killed Nathan. Police found a couple of the gang members that same day, still wearing the same clothes from the night before, but did not arrest them or process their clothing for DNA evidence. For two years, the killers taunted and harassed Linda. They asked Nathan’s friends,“Do you want to be killed next?” Linda kept calling APD to ask why nothing was being done, until finally a homicide captain bellowed,“We know who killed your son, just like we know who killed Kaitlyn Arquette! This is police business – butt out!”(See “Kaitlyn Arquette Case”) Linda made numerous calls to the mayor’s office, which were not returned. Finally an assistant agreed to deliver the message personally. The mayor then called Linda’s PI to ask how much evidence Linda had. The PI responded that she had enough to file a civil suit against the city of Albuquerque for wrongful death. Then wheels started turning. The case detective,(who was also the lead detective in the Arquette case), was transferred out of the department. In 1995, the killers – Song Boutavong, Anacheck Boutavong, Shervin Mowzoun and Michael Frias -- were arrested and convicted. They were allowed to plea bargain.

7/5/94: APD Joseph Polisar,(supervisor of the APD Intelligence Unit when police burned the controversial Intelligence Files), was appointed Police Chief.

8/24/94: Albuquerque Journal: City Counselor M. Brasher requested a new investigation into a federal informant’s claim that four APD narcotics detectives were involved in drug-trafficking, rape, planting evidence and murder of a drug trafficker and prostitutes. The four were investigated in the fall of 1993 by APD Chief Bob Stover.

4/25/95: Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy Darryl Burt, who was acquitted in Nov. 1992 of sex related charges, was indicted on 34 counts of sexual assault and extortion of a 16-yr-old boy over a number of months and a number of different encounters.(These charges were unrelated to the sex charges filed against him previously.) Burt was placed on unpaid leave from BCSO. He later pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to 728 days in jail.

1995: APD Officer Toby Gallegos was fired by Chief Joseph Polisar, who labeled him a “brutal cop” for hitting a suspect several times with his large metal flashlight and kicking him in the groin. A city hearing officer ruled the firing justified, but it was later overturned. Gallegos returned to work and collected $35,627 back wages from his termination date to his reinstatement date.
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#31 Jul 8, 2009
6/2/95: Albuquerque Journal: APD LT. FACES PROBE: Lt. John B. Gallegos, 14-yr veteran of APD and supervisor of Internal Affairs division, faced criminal investigation for burglarizing a liquor store in May, 1995. He was on duty at the time of the burglary.

7/19/95: Albuquerque Journal: APD INVESTIGATES SERGEANT’S ACTIONS - Internal Affairs investigated Sgt. Stan Gloria in connection with a drug situation. Gloria, a former narcotics officer, was current supervisor of field services on the West Side.

7/21/95: Albuquerque Journal: CITY TO PAY FIRED COP $450,000, BUT WON’T SAY WHY-- A legal settlement by the City of Albuquerque awarded Bruce McAllister, fired APD narcotics detective accused of robbing drug dealers and raping a prostitute,$450,000.00. McAllister said he was set up.

8/5/95: MELANIE MCCRACKEN HOMICIDE (NM State Police): Melanie died under strange circumstances in her home in Bosque Farms. There was no official determination of cause of death, although the OMI chief has opined it was "violent assault." Melanie’s husband, NMSP Sgt. Mark McCracken,(see “Stephanie Houston Case”), placed her in the family car, drove onto the Isleta Indian Reservation, and ran the car into a tree. McCracken’s own department investigated the case and announced that Melanie was killed in the car wreck. Sgt. McCracken told the media Melanie died of cancer, although the autopsy revealed no cancer. APD Det. Damon Fay (see “Stephen Haar Case”) threatened to have Melanie’s mother, Nancy Grice, arrested for obstructing justice if she continued to question the circumstances of Melanie’s death. In 1998 Nancy filed a federal civil rights suit against McCracken and the State Police. Expert witness Dr. John Smialek opined that the cause of death was “homicidal suffocation.” When it started to look like the case would turn into a murder case, Nancy’s court appointed attorney succumbed to pressure to settle out of court. NMSP promoted McCracken to lieutenant. In Oct. 2003, Lt. McCracken was indicted for first degree murder and evidence tampering. Grand jurors also requested that another grand jury be empanelled to review the conduct of the NMSP investigators. In Dec. 2003, Valencia County Magistrate John Sanchez, a former State Police officer himself, filed a federal civil rights suit against NMSP for harassment of him and his family in retaliation for his attempts to persuade authorities to investigate McCracken. Oct. 31, 03, McCracken was indicted for first degree murder and evidence tampering, but charges were dismissed because an investigator for the prosecution was in the grand jury room during testimony. Dec 2004, Judge David Bonem ruled McCracken would not have to stand trial. He stated that,“while a violent and natural death cannot be excluded” there was not enough evidence to try mcCracken. He chastised the NMSP for not allowing an outside agency to do the investigation.
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#32 Jul 8, 2009
9/2/95: KRISTOPHER GRAY DEATH (Navajo Tribal Criminal Investigators): Kris was found dead by a pump jack at an oil well location on the south side of Farmington. Although police told Kris’s mother, Marie Lope, that Kris was beaten to death and there were four vehicles at the scene, they collected no evidence from the scene or from Kris’s vehicle, which was hot-wired and driven to a different location. The night before Kris’s body was found, he attended a party on a bluff on the Reservation. Witnesses told Marie that Kris was trying to break up a fight and got killed in the process. Despite their initial statement that it was murder, police closed the case as an accident. The OMI report speculates that Kris “accidentally fell from a height.” The FBI contends that Kris walked into a revolving pump jack,(although the pump jack was not in operation). The embalmer informed Marie that Kris had a fresh stab wound under his rib cage that had to be patched to prevent leakage. The OMI report makes no mention of that stab wound.

9/20/95: APD Lt. John B. Gallegos, supervisor of APD Internal Affairs Division, was indicted on counts of commercial burglary, evidence tampering and larceny. APD said Gallegos was no longer with the department but refused to say if he was fired or resigned.

1/6/96:TYRONE TSOSIE SUSPICIOUS DEATH (Navajo Tribal Criminal Investigators): Tyrone was found comatose on the side of the Frontage Road just off of I-40 fifteen miles east of Gallup. His wallet was missing. He was flown to the UNM Hospital in Albuquerque where he was pronounced brain dead. Police told Tyrone’s mother, Bertha Begay, that her son “got tired and lay down on the side of the side of the road and a car ran over him.” They said the car was so hot that his nylon jacket melted onto his body. Bertha obtained a copy of the autopsy report and discovered the cause of death was “undetermined” and Tyrone’s only injury was a blunt force blow to the back of the head. Tyrone’s family believes he was killed during an argument with someone he knew and that family members of the killer dumped his body. Police said they were “too swamped” to investigate the case, so Bertha hired private investigators. Tyrone’s wallet was eventually found in the possession of his estranged girlfriend, Veronica Scott. Bertha is a single parent of four, and Tyrone’s medical and funeral bills drained her financially. She spent her weekends fund-raising at flea markets in order to pay her private investigators. She couldn’t keep it up, and they dropped off the case.

03/27/96: APD Officer Andres Lehocky was sued for allowing or ordering an attack dog to bite and maul Isaac Ortiz. As with the two previous suits, this lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum of money.

8/96: Former BCSO Deputies Darryl Burt,(once an undercover narcotics agent) and Michael Disney were taken into federal custody as the result of drug raids in their homes, after being videotaped selling drugs in a parking lot across from Eldorado High School. Both men were working at The Wild Side, Disney’s drug paraphernalia shop. At the time of the raid at Burt’s house, Burt and a 17-yr-old male took off through the bedroom window, both wearing only boxer shorts. A loaded 45-caliber handgun, a Fix-A-Flat can filled with cocaine, and a BCSO badge and credentials were among the items found in Burt’s garage. Both Burt and Disney later pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute. The men were described as partners in a heavily armed El Paso-to-Albuquerque drug trafficking operation. Burt was sentenced to 2 years and 9 months on a cocaine distribution conviction in US District Court.
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#33 Jul 8, 2009
9/5/96: Albuquerque’s Public Safety Advisory Board said it planned to find out if the Albuquerque Police Department's SWAT Team had a pattern of using excessive force.

11/6/96: APD Officer Brad Ahrensfield stopped motorist Kevin Lamkin and informed him there were warrants out for his arrest. Lamkin presented paperwork that proved the warrants had already been cleared up, but Ahrensfield allegedly crumbled them up, resorted to name-calling and abusive handling of Lamkin, and arrested him anyway. Lamkin’s case against Ahrensfield was settled out of court for $2,000.

3/18/97: The City Council commissioned an independent study to be undertaken “in the context of a serious and ongoing community crisis regarding the performance of the APD, particularly with reference to the fatal shootings of citizens.” The report confirmed that "The City of Albuquerque suffers from serious problems related to fatal shootings by APD officers and extremely high tort claims involving police officers.” The study also disclosed that the city set aside $4 million a year to settle claims against APD,“which is way out of line with larger cities with larger forces.”

APD Chief Polisar disputed the 163 page report, but said he did not read it all the way through.

5/25/97: APRIL MILLER DEATH (Albq. PD): Nine years after the death of her sister, Spring,(see Spring Miller Case”), April Miller vanished. April last visited her mother, Dianna Miller, on May 15, upset and crying, because her boyfriend had been arrested. April called her mother twice during the following week, just to check in. In her second call, on May 23, she said she was at the home of a friend named “Roland.” Dianna never heard from her again. On June 11, Dianna called APD to report April missing. Police took her information but did not inform her that an anonymous caller had reported April dead in an alley behind the parole office on May 25. APD Officer Todd Babcock, who knew April from a recent encounter, had identified April at the scene. April also had her name tattooed on her neck. The tags on April’s belongings bag and toxicology report all indicate that she was immediately identified as April Miller. Yet, the police report listed April as “Jane Doe,” and Dianna was not informed of her daughter’s death for six weeks. April reportedly died of a drug overdose. There was no investigation. The mysterious “Roland” was not interrogated, although the tipster’s call to police was made from a gas station a couple of blocks from Roland’s residence.

1997: Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Estrada was convicted of embezzlement for taking more than $730 worth of shirts from Dillard’s Department Store where he was moonlighting as a security officer.
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#34 Jul 8, 2009
10/12/97: APD Officer Brad Ahrensfield stopped at a scene where a vehicle was stopped on a median, used pepper spray on the passenger, Steven Salazar, and allegedly kicked him in the stomach when Salazar refused to lie on the ground. The incident was settled for $10,000.

10/26/97: APD Officer Brad Ahrensfield was one of several officers outside an Albuquerque home during the arrest of Jim Vigin Jr. Virgin’s father protested the rough treatment of his son and decided to get a video camera from inside the house. Ahrensfield allegedly tackled Vigil Sr.“with such force that he was thrown into the bushes” and stepped on his hand and wrist, causing a wrist fracture. The City settled the suit for $25,000.

12/5/97: Albuquerque Journal: COP UNION GIVES BACA WARNING -- Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Alex Marentes said of new mayor Jim Baca,“If he screws with us, we will do everything possible to defeat him in the next election.”

12/9/97: Incoming Bernalillo County DA Jeff Romero claimed his office was forced to drop prosecutions because his predecessor, DA Bob Schwartz, never sent the cases for indictment. Romero said about 200 outdated drug cases that should have been sent to the Grand Jury were found “rat-holed” in Schwartz’s former office, a fact that almost caused the DA’s office to lose a $200,000 federal grant for drug prosecutions. Schwartz denied any knowledge of the stash of drug cases.

11/19/97: PAUL FITZJERRELL HOMICIDE,(Gallup PD): Paul was shot and killed. Gallup Police Officer Mike Brandau was indicted. The ranking officer at the scene, Calvin Wiggins, conducted both the homicide investigation and the internal affairs investigation. When the case went to court, police mixed information from Brandau’s Garrity-protected Internal Affairs statement in with the case information, thereby contaminating the case and making it impossible for Brandau to be prosecuted. Brandau stated that the Fraternal Order of Police counsels all their members to insist on Garrity whenever they are accused of crimes.“By doing so you will ensure that your statements and reports cannot be used as evidence against you in any proceedings,” says the FOB guide sheet.“Our advice is that we all use the procedure all the time.” Special prosecutor, Bob Schwartz, stated on television,“Because the police didn’t keep the Internal Affairs investigation and the criminal investigation separate, this case is so infected that you can never disinfect it. It may not be possible for this case to ever go forward again because of the actions of the police department.”(Details about this case must be withheld at this time because the family of the victim has launched a civil suit.)
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#35 Jul 8, 2009
12/21/97: APD Officer Brad Ahrensfield was alleged to have dragged a patron out of a nightclub, used pepper spray on him, and shoved him to the ground with such force that he shattered the man’s right wrist. The case was settled for $40,000.

12/26/97: Mayor Jim Baca announced his plan for a Citizens Review Board to investigate complaints against the Albuquerque Police Department.“The police department has to be accountable to somebody besides themselves,” Mayor Baca said. Alex Marentes, the police union president, argued that citizen review boards were “ineffective” and could be “bureaucratic, expensive and potentially controversial … Civilian investigators may lack an understanding of police sub-cultural norms.”

1/10/98: JOSH VIHEL SUSPICIOUS DEATH (Albq. PD): Josh, 16, died at a party. The official cause of death was “alcohol poisoning,” but he also had a bruise on his forehead, his nose was leaking blood, and money was missing from his wallet. Josh’s body was removed from the party house and taken to the apartment of one of the party guests, who didn’t report the death until the next afternoon. The first officer at the scene called in a report of a “suspicious death” and criminalistics was dispatched to the scene. An informant contacted the family with information that GHB (date rape drug) was slipped into Josh’s drink. Since GHB leaves the victim’s system in twelve hours, it would not show up in an autopsy. The family located the party house, which police said they couldn’t find, and were told by neighbors that the adult males who lived there, Chris and Scott Leonard, threw frequent parties where they charged cover fees and sold liquor and drugs to minors. APD refused to interrogate the Leonard brothers, explaining that the DA advised against it. Josh’s parents filed a civil suit against the Leonards and insisted on taking the case to court in order to learn more about what happened. In a deposition, Chris Leonard stated that he had several friends and a cousin on the police force.(For personal reasons, this family does not wish to be interviewed.)

1/14/98: GABINO GEORGE VENEGAS HOMICIDE (NM State Police): Gabino was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bicycle home from work. Gabino’s parents, who lived out of state, asked Gabino’s sister in Albuquerque to keep them advised about the progress of the investigation. The NM State Police reacted with hostility to the sister’s questions and attempted to intimidate her by accusing her of interfering with the investigation. In truth, there was no investigation. The family’s PI discovered that three witnesses had seen two vehicles speeding from the scene. Evidence indicated that the first vehicle struck Gabino on his bicycle and knocked him into the path of the second vehicle. Witnesses identified the first car as a law enforcement vehicle, possibly Sheriff’s Dept. The PI was able to match the paint transfer on the bicycle with the make and year of the second vehicle and submitted a request for an MVD printout of the owners of such cars in a two-county area. NMSP ordered MVD not to comply with that legal request. The family filed a tort claim notice against NMSP, as they suspected investigators were covering up for a fellow cop. Police promised the family and their attorney that, if they withdrew the tort claim notice, NMSP would thoroughly investigate Gabino’s death. The family withdrew the notice. The case was not further investigated. The family’s PI believes that he has now identified and located the car that killed Gabino, but the DA’s office won’t agree to reopen the case.
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#36 Jul 8, 2009
1/15/98: STEPHEN HAAR HOMICIDE (Albq. PD): Steve died from gunshot wounds to the stomach and back. Two guns were used. The OMI has stated that one shot was fired by someone standing over him when he was already down. Police released a statement that Steve was found dead in the street with a shotgun lying next to him. In truth, he was found inside the residence of a man who is reportedly an APD snitch. Steve’s mother, Carmen Haar, found a note in Steve’s pocket warning him about a contract and naming the alleged snitch. In the course of an arrest by a Valencia County detective for an unrelated shooting, Travis Dally (a friend of the alleged snitch) confessed to killing Steve. APD dismissed the shooting as self-defense without even obtaining Dally’s taped confession from Valencia County. APD homicide Det. Damon Fay (see “Melanie McCracken Case”) told Carmen that APD would not charge Dally, but would forward the case to the DA’s Office. In Sept. 02, Carmen contacted the DA’s Office to inquire why charges hadn’t yet been filed. She was told the DA’s Office had no file on Steve’s case. As of today, Dally still has not been charged. Steve is the third of Carmen’s children to be murdered.

2/16/98: APD Officer Andrew LeHocky sicced his Belgian Malinois attack dog, Bart, on Nestor Chavez, a fleeing suspect. After the dog bit Nestor Chavez once and Lehocky had verified that Chavez was unarmed, Lehocky ordered Bart to attack a second time causing serious damage to Chavez’s right lower leg. In the interim Albuquerque mayor, Martin Chavez, declared that no police misconduct cases would settle. The case went to trial and, on April 25, 2003, a jury in the federal court in Albuquerque found Lehocky liable for violating Mr. Chavez’s Fourth Amendment rights and awarded nominal damages. In Aug., 03, a federal judge overturned the jury verdict, because Chavez had lied about being a suspect in a break-in earlier that morning.

4/14/98: Incoming Albuquerque mayor, Jim Baca (the same person who blew the whistle on the APD Intelligence Unit, see 5/10/87) replaced APD Chief Polisar (former officer in charge of that Intelligence Unit) with Gerald Galvin, police chief from Toledo, Ohio, in a reported effort to “clean up the Albuquerque Police Department.”

4/23/98: Chief State District Judge John Brennan criticized the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department for losing evidence in a first-degree murder case, including the victim’s clothing and five bullets pulled from his body.

4/25/98: Lawrence Candelaria, Identification Tech at APD,(processes fingerprints and takes mug shots), was charged with intent to distribute narcotics. Earlier in the year, Candelaria compromised an arrest warrant when he warned the target, his brother Leonard, that police were about to search his home. When a second warrant was served, police found heroin packaged for distribution. Lawrence Candelaria was arrested for conspiracy to traffic in heroin; Leonard Candelaria was booked for possession of heroin.
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#37 Jul 8, 2009
6/18/98: Albuquerque Journal: THE CITIZENS OF ALBUQUERQUE ARE AFRAID OF THEIR COPS -- That was the message the City Council heard during a special meeting to get public input on a recently completed study of who should police the Albuquerque Police Department … Paul Harper, co-director of Albuquerque Citizens on Police Accountability, said APD has proven cops can’t police themselves.“It’s like having the fox guard the hen house” said Harper, whose son Larry was killed by police officers.

6/25/98: Katherine Teupell was awarded a $235,000 settlement for claims against the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department and the Albuquerque Police Department for their use of a “We don’t do blue” policy in dealing with an officer accused of beating his wife. Teupell alleged police extended “professional courtesy” to her husband, Scott Finley, a member of the Sheriff Department’s elite Crime Suppression Unit. Teupell testified she fled from her home with her children, 6 and 2, still in pajamas, on the night of Oct. 18, 1993, after Finley beat her. Teupell said that when she threatened to call police, Finley responded,“Go ahead and call. How can you break the law when you are the law?" Although the APD officer who responded to the call confiscated Finley's police revolver, other officers who took over at the scene returned it.

6/28/98: APD Officer Brad Ahrensfield was alleged to have punched motorist Kippy Rhoten in the face five times after pulling him over to tell him to turn his car stereo down. A Metro Court judge ruled Ahrensfield innocent, but the City Attorney’s office ended up paying a settlement of $20,000

7/1/98: TERESA REYES, MISSING AND PRESUMED DEAD (Albq. PD): Teresa, 17, disappeared from the family home during the night. Police dubbed her a run-away, despite the fact that she took nothing with her, not even her wallet or crucially important medications. Since APD refused to investigate, Teresa’s mother, also named Teresa Reyes, sought help from other sources – ID Resource Center, Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Mayor’s Office, and the FBI. Those agencies would contact APD, who would assure them Teresa was a runaway and would come home when she was ready. In 2002, a PI received information that, on the night Teresa vanished, she met three strange men in a parking lot, who invited her to a party. Teresa wrote their phone number on a paper napkin with her lipstick. Teresa’s parents believe that Teresa sneaked out later to attend the party and met with foul play. Soon after that, Mrs. Reyes was mending a hole in Teresa’s favorite stuffed doll and found the napkin with the phone number hidden in the doll. The number was unlisted and no longer in service. The APD Missing Persons Dept. told Mrs. Reyes to have her PI fax all the case information to an APD detective. The PI did so, but nobody responded. Mrs. Reyes wrote to the police chief, begging his assistance. He didn’t respond. She, then, appealed to the Police Oversight Commission, and the police finally came to pick up the napkin. Three more years have now passed. Mrs. Reyes says,“Every time the phone rings my heart starts to pound, and I tell myself,‘Maybe the police have been able to trace that phone number!’ But it’s never the police. I don’t think they remember who we are.”

8/19/98: The City of Rio Rancho settled with Bob and Frances James for an undisclosed amount after four police officers shot their son David to death as he stood on his parents’ front porch. Officers said they believed David was brandishing a gun. In truth he was holding a ceramic cross.
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#38 Jul 8, 2009
9/2/98: The family of Larry Harper was awarded a $200,000 settlement in a federal lawsuit claiming excessive force by police after family members called police to the Elena Gallegos picnic area for aid in subduing Harper, who was threatening to kill himself. After assuring the family that they were there only to talk to Harper, the APD SWAT-team shot Harper to death.“They told us the officers were only carrying ‘non-lethal rounds,’” said Larry’s brother, James Harper.

9/98: Albuquerque Tribune: The newly formed Police Oversight Commission is unable to function because of lack of cooperation from the Albuquerque Police Department. Although citizens have the right to appeal to the commission, which can offer its recommendations to the police chief, the chief does not have to act on those recommendations. Chief Galvin has never once gone along with a commission recommendation for increased discipline of an officer, and no officer named in a citizen complaint has ever shown up for a hearing.“We’ve been stonewalled,” the commission chairman told the media.

10/16/98: Albuquerque Journal: Former BCSO deputy Darryl Burt, now a federal inmate, has instigated a civil rights suit against the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department claiming he is owed back pay and benefits denied him after he was charged with 34 counts of sexual assault and extortion of a 16-yr-old boy. In 7/99 a federal judge dismissed the suit.

10/24/98: Albuquerque Police Detective Cisco Martinez was accused of entrapment for hiring two girls from an escort service to come to his motel room and dance nude, which is not illegal. However, he then attempted get the women to touch his genital area and to allow him to fondle them. When they refused, stating that this would be illegal, he had them busted for prostitution anyway. The women were found innocent in court.

12/13/98: RAMONA DURAN SUSPICIOUS DEATH (Albq. PD)– Ramona was found dead of a drug overdose in the apartment of Thomas Green and Ricky Pike. The men told police the three had drunk beer and smoked crack all night. Yet an autopsy revealed no alcohol in Ramona’s system. The first officer at the scene reported a strong odor of gas and advised his sergeant it was a suspicious death. Two officers reported bruises on Ramona’s arms above the elbows, and a neighbor reported hearing a woman screaming. Ramona’s sister, Valerie Duran, believes Ramona was sedated with gas and forcibly injected with a lethal drug overdose. She confirms that Ramona once had a drug problem, but says she had turned her life around. At the time of her death Ramona was on supervised probation and enrolled in an out patient substance abuse program with regular testing. Her probation officer has stated that Ramona remained clean. Ramona had told family members that she feared for her life because she had fingered certain VIPs in the drug trade and police had leaked information that she was a snitch. Police will not allow Ramona’s family to view the scene photos or to speak with the officers at the scene or to the men in whose apartment Ramona died.

12/27/98: JOHN SHERMAN SUSPICIOUS DEATH (Sandoval County Sheriff’s Dept.): John was found in Rio Rancho, slashed and stabbed to death in the front seat of his van. Members of the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department transferred John’s body to the back of the van before taking crime scene photos and insist his death was a suicide, despite the finding of “homicide” by the former head of forensics at the Menninger clinic, who stated,“This wasn’t just murder – this was over-kill!” When John’s mother sought to have the case reopened she was informed that John’s case file had been destroyed.
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#39 Jul 8, 2009
2/26/99: APD Officer Andrew Lehocky released his police dog, Bart, on an unarmed teenager, Moriah Smith, who was hiding in a school yard after a boy she met at a party fired a gun and frightened her. Bart was supposedly sent in to locate Moriah and “guard and bark” to let Officers know where she was hiding. Instead, Bart ran into the schoolyard, located Moriah and immediately attacked her. Bart never bothered—or was ordered not—to bark. The attack left Moriah with four deep wounds that required three surgeries and a skin graft. Lehocky stated his supervisor, Sgt. Tom Garduno, told him, "Good job. I'm glad nobody died." A federal jury subsequently found Lehocky liable for the Moriah Smith attack. Lehocky was ordered to pay the $50,000 necessary to partially remove scars. Lehocky contended that Moriah must be a “bad” girl because his dog, Bart, would only bite “bad” people.

4/3/99: Albuquerque Journal: Former Sheriff’s Deputy, Michael Lee Disney, appeared before a US Magistrate on charges that he threatened DEA Agent Mike Marshall because of Marshall’s testimony against him.

4/15/99: STEPHANE MURPHEY HOMICIDE: Stephane was raped and strangled to death in her home in Rio Rancho. Her decomposed body was found four days later in her car, which was parked at an apartment complex in Albuquerque. APD and the Rio Rancho DPS were in conflict over who had jurisdiction. Eventually the Rio Rancho DPS claimed the case, despite the fact that they had no homicide department. It was only after years of relentless pressure by Stephane's family that RRDPS replaced the case investigator with one who was willing to submit the DNA evidence for testing. As a direct result of that testing, David F. Bologh was arrested and arraigned. Bond has been set at $1 million.(The family does not wish to be interviewed until after the trial.)

7/99: Albuquerque Journal - APD MODIFIES USE OF RUSE OPERATIONS – The APD SWAT-team had an officer pose as a burglar holed up in a car near the home of a murder suspect (a 12-year-old girl, Jade Gonzales, who had shot her father and claimed it was an accident). The SWAT team used the ruse of the fictional burglar to evacuate residents and secretly place an electronic eavesdropping device inside the Gonzales home. APD Chief Galvin said no officers were disciplined over the Jade Gonzales incident because they were following the department's standard operating procedures, but promised those procedures would be changed. Det. Steve Hall, one of the officers involved in that ruse, was named “Officer of the Month.”
Children’s Court Judge Tommy Jewell sharply criticized APD for stripping the 12-yr-old of her basic rights. Jewell found that the detectives didn't advise Jade of any rights, before or after they interrogated her without her mother or attorney present. Jewell wrote that Jade was the victim of "shocking, outrageous, and clearly intolerable" violations of her rights.

8/31/99: Former Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Estrada was convicted of retaliating against a witness who testified against him in 1997, when he was convicted of embezzlement
When Does It End

Maiden, NC

#40 Jul 8, 2009
9/3/99: Albuquerque Tribune: Retired APD Officer Philip Otero was arrested for impersonating an on-duty officer, stealing a motorist's money, and trying to bilk a 76-yr-old woman out of $2,000 casino earnings by going to her door and telling her to hand over the money because it might be counterfeit.

11/20/99: Albuquerque Tribune: A boot mark across the bridge of her boyfriend’s nose, due to a beating by Albuquerque Police Officers, caused Diane Holquist to call a special meeting of the Police Oversight Commission. Holquist charged excessive brutality that went unpunished when the officers were cleared by a police internal affairs investigation. Holquist attempted to enlist the help of the Commission to mandate that all officers involved in internal affairs complaints take lie detector tests.“It is the last chance for citizens to be assured of credibility from the police force,” she said. Holquist had gathered over 1,000 signatures on a petition seeking mandatory lie detector tests. The Police Oversight Commission did not have the power to help her in this matter.

12/7/99: BENEDICT ESQUIVEL HOMICIDE (Albq. PD): Benny, 14, was the victim of a gang-related shooting in 1992. He was shot in the neck and survived seven and a half years as a quadriplegic before he died of complications from respirator use. Benny’s father, Juan Esquivel, says two girls came to the hospital immediately after the shooting and told him the names of the killers and the motel where they were holed up. Juan gave that information to Det. Ronald Merriman,(see “Kaitlyn Arquette Case” and “Curtis Lindsey Case), who told Juan he hand-delivered the information to the APD Gang Squad. No investigation was done, and police now claim they never received the information. After Benny died, police told reporters they would reopen the case as a homicide and start tracking down witnesses. They now claim that the case is too old to investigate.

2/27/00: STEPHANIE HOUSTON HOMICIDE (NM State Police): Stephanie died when her jealous and abusive boyfriend, Patrick Murillo, ran her over with his truck after he saw her dancing with another man. OMI urged that the death be investigated as a homicide. Within days, scene investigator, Mark McCracken,(see “Melanie McCracken Case”), was telling the media that NMSP had fully investigated the case and Stephanie caused her own death because she was falling-down drunk. In truth, they had questioned no witnesses, done no reconstruction, and the toxicology test showed Stephanie had consumed about one beer. Stephanie’s father, Bill Houston, conducted his own investigation, questioning witnesses and accumulating information. In July 2002, Bill was charged with stalking because of his efforts to acquire information about Murillo. In May 2003, an investigative reporter exposed NMSP’s mishandling of the case, accusing them of glossing over possible domestic violence and failing to follow fundamental investigative techniques including never conducting an accident reconstruction. The case was then reopened and in Dec. 2003, Murillo was indicted for vehicular homicide

4/10/00: APD Officer Andrew Lehocky was sent with other officers to respond to a call that resident Jimmy Castillo had threatened to commit suicide. As Mr. Castillo walked from his residence, unarmed, on the order of the police (who had promised him that his pastor was outside waiting for him), Lehocky unleashed his attack dog, Bart, and issued the “fass”(attack command). The attack resulted in serious bites on Mr. Castillo’s ankles, thighs, and calves.

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