By DAVID CORREIA
An Albuquerque police officer shot and killed 19-year old Mary Hawkes yesterday in southeast Albuquerque near the corner of Zuni SE near Wyoming. She is the 25th person APD officers have shot and killed since 2010, a pattern of fatalities that the Department of Justice recently declared reflected a pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing and the routine use of unjustified lethal force.
At a press conference at the scene just hours after the shooting, embattled Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden claimed that Hawkes pointed a gun at APD officer Jeremy Dear during a foot chase. Dear has since been placed on leave.
[UPDATE]: At a Wednesday news conference, Eden said that APD was unable to recover video from Dear’s lapel camera, so there is no evidence, other than Dear’s claim, that Hawkes pointed a weapon at him. Dear was at the scene three years ago when Officer Sean Wallace shot and killed an unarmed Alan Gomez. Dear changed his story regarding the Gomez shooting during the civil lawsuit against APD. His first version contradicted Wallace’s claims, but Dear later changed his story to match the one told by Wallace, a version that the District Attorney used to declare the shooting justified. Asked for comment, Alan Gomez’s father, Mike Gomez, told the press that “[Jeremy Dear] is a proven liar. If he said he did it and there is no audio or video recordings to prove it, you can’t believe it. It’s like he said she said, but unfortunately the ‘she said’ part of this is dead.” Eden had no explanation as to why Dear’s camera did not capture video.
Witnesses at the scene reported bullet holes in the brick wall next to the woman’s body. Her body lay under a yellow sheet on the sidewalk for much of the morning.
A morning that started with another fatal APD shooting continued at 5:30 PM with a City Council Meeting. The public comment period of the meeting began with short statements from the three members of the Police Oversight Commission (POC) who resigned in protest last week. As La Jicarita previously reported, Jonathan Siegel, Richard Shine & Jennifer Barela, three members of the nine-member POC, the official body charged with investigating and/or mediating all citizen complaints of APD and tasked with monitoring all investigations of police shootings under investigation by APD’s Internal Affairs, resigned after concluding that the administration of Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry was actively undermining what little independence the POC enjoyed.
Barela spoke first telling the Council that they alone have the power to change the POC by redrafting what she called a fatally flawed ordinance. She pointed to the POC meeting on April 10 as the moment she decided to resign, telling the council that a deputy city attorney told the POC at that meeting that “they were not allowed to disagree” with Independent Review Officer Robin Hammer.
The POC ordinance reads as follows: “§ 9-4-1-6 INDEPENDENT REVIEW OFFICE, section (B) The IRO shall be given autonomy and shall perform all duties under the direction of the POC.” & “§ 9-4-1-7 INDEPENDENT REVIEW OFFICER. (D): The IRO will report directly to the POC and act as Lead Investigator and Manager of the Office.”
Barela noted the contradiction of the city attorney’s office’s interpretation of the ordinance, charitably calling it a “convoluted legal opinion.” Given the lack of independence in the office of the Independent Review Office, it has become, according to Barela “an act of bravery for regular, working people to file a complaint against a police officer.”
Barela left the podium to applause. Siegel spoke next. He noted that the IRO appears to answer to the Mayor’s office only in a pattern that makes real oversight impossible. Siegel said he resigned after it had become clear that the City’s legal department was out to “curtail and cutoff the reasonable execution of proper oversight and instead create barriers to regular citizens.” He concluded by reminding the Council that the opinions of the City’s legal department were “directly opposite the plain language of the POC ordinance.
Shine spoke last. Like Barela and Siegel, he complained that the City Attorney’s office “repeatedly blocked oversight. Repeatedly blocked the POC from monitoring APD Internal Affairs investigations, which was explicitly allowed by the ordinance.” He noted that the POC had decided to engage in a study of the use of Tasers by APD. The City Attorney’s office advised APD and the IRO that the POC could not launch such an investigation, despite an ordinance that allows it. He said that the POC decided to study trends in civil lawsuits against APD. Again, despite language in the ordinance that expressly allowed the POC to engage in such investigations, the City Attorney’s office advised the IRO and the Chief of Police that they would not have to cooperate with the POC on these investigations. He concluded by telling the Councilors that the “straw that broke the camel’s back” was the April 10 meeting when the City Attorney’s office “undercut the POC” when it declared that the POC’s only task was to rubber stamp the work of IRO, who worked under the direction of the Chief of Police.
Shine called this ” a complete mockery of meaningful oversight. A complete sham. I could not contribute to the deception of the public.”
Dozens of people followed with comments, including 11-year old Kai Bradley-Gutierrez de Teran, who told the Councilors that “Albuquerque used to be known for the balloon festival but now when my relatives from Spain call, they ask me about the police killings. At my school now, the kids don’t talk about movies, games and stuff like that. They talk about the police killings.”
Mary Jobe announced a candlelight vigil for 9 PM at the site of the killing of Mary Hawkes.
A day that began with another police shooting, and was consumed with another public meeting, ended with another candlelight vigil for a victim of APD. Dozens gathered at the corner of Zuni and Wyoming, and wrote messages in chalk on the wall along the sidewalk where Hawkes died..
Just hours after the candlelight vigil, APD sent a crew to the scene of the vigil and painted over the entire wall. An APD officer told one protester that APD will cite any protesters who write with chalk again.
[UPDATE]: On Tuesday, despite warnings by APD, vigil-goers returned to the site and re-chalked the wall. On Wednesday morning another City crew showed up to once again paint over the memorial to Mary Hawkes. A member of (Un)Occupy Albuquerque named Kate had this to say: “I got to Mary Hawkes’ memorial site just as the city buff crew arrived to paint over it again. When I asked one of the workers why he was painting over a memorial, he said there was profane language that had to be covered up. I asked him to just cover up the profanity but leave the memorial, out of respect. He agreed to my request, but said if his supervisor tells him to cover all of it he will have to. They left after painting over every “Fuck APD”. We’ll see how long it stays this way.”
On Thursday, local artist Lil Threat Loca uploaded a musical homage and tribute to Mary Hawkes, writing “In Loving Memory of 19-year-old Mary Hawkes, one of the many at-risk youth Lil Threat had the privilege of mentoring throughout New Mexico.”