And the Shootings Continue: APD’s Twenty-Fifth Victim Since 2010 in Critical Condition

By DAVID CORREIA

Albuquerque police Sargent Jason Peck shot twenty-year old Dominick Solis-Mora in the chest Monday. According to APD, Solis-Mora allegedly pointed a gun at Peck during an undercover drug bust on Albuquerque’s Westside.  Solis-Mora, in critical condition at an area hospital, is APD’s 25th shooting victim since 2010. Seventeen have died from their injuries, the highest rate of police shootings and fatalities of any U.S. city of equivalent size; a rate similar to New York, a city 14-times the population of Albuquerque with a police force 34-times larger than APD.

The shooting comes in the wake of recent efforts by the city to address the increasing criticism of the

How does Joseph T. Wolf, APD’s new head trainer, plan to stop the pattern of APD violence? No more marching in formation and singing songs on the drill field he told reporters at his introductory news conference. Source: APD

department. Just weeks ago the department introduced Joe Wolf as its new APD Academy training director. Wolf, the former head trainer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, admitted at his introductory news conference that Chief Ray Schultz’s APD polices in a pattern that looks more like a military occupation than a public safety department.

“This is not an occupying army,” he said. “There’s a disconnect with the military model of law enforcement training. We’re trying to create individual thinkers, not group movement … That’s a tall order,” he admitted.

A tall order indeed. Wolf serves under Chief Shultz

Just weeks before Wolf’s appointment, Mayor Richard Berry nominated Robin Hammer as the City’s new Independent Review Officer. Hammer has an impeccable record and will surely do an admirable job.

But while the independent review officer is autonomous and charged with investigating citizen complaints against police officers, it can only recommend discipline to the police oversight commission. Even if the commission agrees, it can only forward its recommendations to Chief Shultz.

Another casualty of the recent pattern of fatal police shootings is any focus on endemic police brutality in the department. For obvious reasons, activists have focused their efforts on the problem of fatal police shootings. But killing people is not all that APD does. Its officers also harass people at a rate in excess of its fatal shootings.

Current statistics are hard to come by, but all signs suggest today’s APD is even worse than the APD of 2000-2003.

In 2001 APD’s Internal Affairs Unit investigated four citizen complaints a week. After one year and 52 complaints, its agents upheld only one complaint.

And as bad as 2001 was, it was an outlier. Between 2000 and 2003, Albuquerque residents filed 538 complaints against APD, 40% of which were filed by people of color. Nothing much came of those complaints either.

La Jicarita was recently contacted by one of APD’s victims. Jennifer (a pseudonym) asked that we keep her identity a secret. We agreed, but really the details of her arrest are so common as to hardly make her recognizable to APD.

An APD officer with a history of citizen complaints and at least one civil rights lawsuit filed against him, pulled Jennifer over late at night. “I’m teaching you a lesson,” he told her when she asked why he pulled her over.

When she disputed every fact he included in his arrest report, he claimed that his lapel camera and cruiser camera were inoperable.

She was handcuffed and hauled off to the metropolitan detention center where she spent 24 hours in lock-up. Internal Affairs gave her a good cop/bad cop routine when she called to complain in the days after her arrest.

The recent spate of fatal shootings by APD has drawn much-needed critical scrutiny to the department and its leaders. But instead of ending the police occupation of the city and firing Schultz and a leadership responsible for creating the most violent police department in the U.S., city leaders have chosen to create new layers of bureaucracy around Schultz so as to distribute authority in a pattern sure to obscure responsibility for the fatal shootings to come, not to mention the kind of everyday experiences of residents like Jennifer.

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4 comments

  1. Hello, I found your article to be interesting. The Family of Dominick has yet to be given any information to them about his condition. The Police nor the Hospital will release any info to them,the say that his Doctor is the only one that can release that but they will not tell them the Doctors name. I know this kid and some of the history behind his arrests and he is not violent as they are claiming.
    Most of the time he has had to go to jail on charges, involving some violent act has been because of the other person first. This kid has spent most of his life just trying to get by and taking the blame for others,as he puts it he would rather be dead than a snitch. I really believe that when he was told to put his hands up he did with the gun up in the air, not intending to point it at officers. If you listen to the lapel video closly there is no mention of dropping his weapon. Why didn’t the undercover officer have a camera?
    Since they took the time to set the sting in action why wasn,t there a camera set up in the car? How convinent that it was the officer without a camera! Need I say more. As cheif Shultz puts it that with his criminal history officers had no choice but to shoot. I really think the undercover officer had decided what he was going to do the minute Dominick put the gun under his leg.
    Hell why not his a criminal, it’s his word against mine who they going to believe? That’s probably why his Family can’t even see him, they don’t want him to talk. After all most people who get shot in the upper chest don’t have much of achance at survival. I bet the officer was not counting on that very much. It was probably close enough to be at point blank range.
    Thanks for letting me sound off , just a friend of the family.

    • I just happened to come upon this article just now but I will say I don’t know this kid, but I do know he is violent (or was). Back in 2009 the kid carjacked me in front of my relatives house and tried to hit me with my own car. Inside the vehicle officers found drugs and a gun. He spent a few months in jail, big deal. Guess so he could go back out and allegedly commit more crimes. Thanks for letting ME I(one of his victims) sound off.

  2. Another very thoughtful essay, David. And thank you to the annonymous individual who commented about Dominick and his family. I really appreciate La Jicarita’s coverage of police brutality (and other topics too).

    One point of clarification:
    -the 52 complaints in 2001 of which only one was upheld were complaints specifically about excessive force. As is mentioned there were many more complaints about APD that year about other things. I just wanted to clarify that the factoid about 52 complaints is specifically about excessive force complaints. Meaning that about a quarter of all complaints that year were about how violent the police were. That’s pretty crazy. Or another way to look at it, police beat up a person a week. And no doubt plenty of people who experience police brutality never file complaints.

    • Thanks for the clarification Robert. And for the record, much of the historical work (statistics on police brutality in particular) I cite regarding APD comes from your hard work that you shared with me. I know you know that, just want to make sure everyone else does as well. Thanks.

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