ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The family of a woman fatally shot by Albuquerque police claimed that evidence vital to a wrongful death suit against the city wasn’t properly preserved and asked for default judgment.
The family’s argument is based on the video recordings and the cameras that failed to record the fatal encounter between Officer Jeremy Dear and 19-year-old Mary Hawkes in April 2014, the Albuquerque Journal reported (http://bit.ly/2wC9nNK ) on Tuesday. Police suspected Hawkes of stealing a truck.
Lawyers for the family argued that some videos the city provided were altered and the faulty cameras some officers were wearing should have been preserved as evidence. They identified 10 items of evidence fitting that description, and they said the lack of this evidence would benefit the city at trial. Not maintaining that evidence, the family argued, was a breach in the police’s duties that should lead to sanctions.
The city argued they did not have an obligation to preserve that evidence at the time and that a default judgment is a “drastic sanction.”
Laura Ives, the family’s attorney, argued that the city turned over only altered versions of the original lapel camera recordings. The city maintained that the files were forensically examined and “have not been altered since they were initially recorded by the assigned cameras.”
Dear said his camera was unplugged when the shooting occurred, and the city later sent the device to the manufacturer for analysis. The company couldn’t determine a reason for why the device down, city officials said.
Dear was terminated in the months following the shooting after he repeatedly failed to use his lapel camera, the city’s police chief said.
Judge Nan Nash is expected to make a decision on the case in the coming weeks.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com