ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — A federal magistrate judge sanctioned the city of Albuquerque this week for losing a recorded statement of an officer who witnessed a fellow officer fatally shoot a man.
The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/18xM9VM ) that U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan C. Torgerson's ruling allows attorneys representing the family of Alan Gomez to offer evidence that the recording had been "lost or misplaced solely as a result of the negligence of the City of Albuquerque."
The family's attorneys said the recording is a key piece of evidence in their civil rights suit.
However, a city's contract attorney, Luis Robles, said told the Albuquerque Journal this week that he recovered the recording from New Mexico State Police. That agency assisted in the investigation of officer Sean Wallace's shooting of Gomez, and one of its agents was present for the interview of the witness, Albuquerque officer Jeremy Dear.
"I understand how that appears," Robles said. "I can't speak to the investigation done by the city prior to my entering on the case."
Robles said he obtained the recording from State Police sometime in the past two weeks.
In court filings, Deputy City Attorney Kathy Levy said she and others had made an "extensive good faith search" for the recording but could not locate it. She said Thursday that, "to the best of (her) recollection," her search for the recording had included an "inquiry" with State Police.
The Gomez family's lawsuit alleges wrongful death and constitutional violations against Wallace. It also alleges negligent hiring, retention and supervision of Wallace and other claims against Police Chief Ray Schultz and the city.
The city is under a U.S. Justice Department investigation over excessive force claims after the city had more than two dozen officer-involved shootings since 2010. The investigation was launched amid protests, lawsuits and demands by civil rights advocates.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com