Activists gathered on the steps of Albuquerque police headquarters Wednesday after police fatally shot a man Tuesday night. They’re demanding transparency in the investigation of this latest officer involved shooting.
The streets in Albuquerque were slushy when about two dozen activists showed up with picket signs. One was painted blood red with the words “This revolution will not be privatized.”
“We want all of the video of last nights chase, shooting and killing of this human being,” Renee Garcia with the group Albuquerque Justice said. “We want those to be made available immediately. It is high time for real and concrete permanent reform.”
Dinah Vargas is perhaps the feistiest voice in the Albuquerque Justice crew. She said she was on the scene of the officer involved shooting in Northeast Albuquerque Tuesday night to bear witness.
“There are absolutely situations where lethal force has to be used,” Vargas said. “But we wouldn’t know because there is a lack of transparency and we have no faith in the overall system.”
Tuesday’s shooting was the first fatal officer involved shooting this year. Last November, the
U.S. Department of Justice and the City of Albuquerque signed an agreement to reform the police department. The feds had found that APD engaged in a pattern of deadly and excessive use of force that was unconstitutional. Tuesday’s shooting was the 28th fatal officer involved shooting since 2010.
Dinah Garcia is worried the pattern will continue unless activists keep showing up and speaking out.
“I’d like to have faith,” Garcia said. “I’d want nothing more than to have faith, but there is none. That’s why we’re here. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here. Period.”
Assistant Police Chief Robert Huntsman told reporters late Tuesday night that they received a call about some suspicious criminal activity just before 5 o’clock. Officers responded. They encountered two men, arrested one. The other, now identified as John Edward Okeefe, fled on foot. The cops chased him. Huntsman said Okeefe fired a weapon and continued running. At least one officer drew his gun, fired and Okeefe died. Huntsman said Okeefe was wearing some sort of body armor.
Patrick Douless lives right where the suspect was taken down.
“I can tell you that one of the officers who was the gunman, immediately after the shooting, another officer came up and they were arguing, adrenaline running asking questions of each other,” Douless said. “One of the officers was asking the other what happened, you know, 'how many times did you shoot?' He was like 'four or five times, four or five!'”
But Douless, who filmed the aftermath of the shooting, said he clearly saw a body that was lying just 50 feet or so from his doorstep for several hours with the torso exposed. APD in a statement said that officers cut a bullet proof vest off of Okeefe before attempting to give him medical treatment.
Douless and the other protesters at the scene of the shooting agreed that if Okeefe pulled a gun on the cops then they could understand why the officers fired shots.
"I can understand because that is a sure way to get shot,” Douless said.
The names of the officers involved in the shooting have not been released.