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Sanctions Against ABQ Ordered In Shooting Case, Amtrack Engine Partially Derails In NM

Oct 6, 2017

Judge Orders Sanctions Against Albuquerque In Shooting CaseThe Associated Press

A New Mexico judge ordered sanctions against the city of Albuquerque in the lawsuit involving the woman fatally shot by a police officer in 2014.

Judge Nan Nash granted the request from the family of 19-year-old Mary Hawkes finding that the police department failed to preserve vital evidence of the shooting by former officer Jeremy Dear.

The jury at trial will be instructed that the shooting of Hawkes was unreasonable. Attorneys representing the woman's family say the order means that the jury will focus only on damages.

Attorneys for the city say they disagree with the ruling and that a jury should decide if the officer's actions were justified.

The arguments center on a series of video recordings and cameras that failed to record the fatal encounter.

Lead Engine Of Amtrak Train Hits Boulder, Partially DerailsThe Associated Press

Amtrak says the lead engine of a passenger train crossing northern New Mexico partially derailed when it struck a boulder on the tracks, delaying the train for over 10 hours but causing no serious injuries.

The incident occurred Thursday evening on Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks near Watrous about 105 miles northeast of Albuquerque.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says the nine-car train carrying 132 passengers and 14 crew members couldn't resume its journey from Los Angeles to Chicago until Friday morning after the boulder was removed and the tracks repaired.

Magiiari says the train's second engine remained on the tracks and that the train still had power, heating and toilet service while it remained at the derailment site.

Rancher Gets Prison For Armed Encounter With Utility WorkersThe Associated Press

A 56-year-old northern New Mexico rancher faces a year and a half in prison after being sentenced for a carjacking conviction stemming from an armed confrontation with utility company workers on his property.

Richard Howieson of Costilla in Taos County was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty April 17 in the Feb. 19, 2013 incident.

Howieson acknowledged in a plea agreement that he brandished a loaded pistol after confronting the two utility workers who said they had permission to cut a lock and go onto his property to install fiber optic cable.

He also acknowledged he didn't let the workers take their truck when he ordered them off his property and that he fired his pistol in another direction as they walked away.

Authorities Arrest 12 In New Mexico On Drug, Firearm ChargesThe Associated Press

A federal grand jury has indicted 15 people on drug trafficking and firearm charges after federal, state and local law enforcement agencies wrapped up an investigation aimed at dismantling a criminal organization operating in southeastern New Mexico.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that authorities have arrested 12 people and three others are considered fugitives as the investigation concluded Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice says authorities seized more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine and 44 firearms. The criminal organization planned to smuggle the guns into Mexico.

The investigation was launched by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, and it expanded to include several other agencies.

Museum Makeover In Santa Fe Comes With Contemporary TwistThe Associated Press

Contemporary art is getting a prominent new pedestal in Santa Fe with the architectural transformation of a warehouse venue into a full-blown museum.

SITE Santa Fe on Friday inaugurated a sweeping expansion and redesign of a former beer warehouse to add a snack bar, museum shop, lecture hall, outdoor "sky terrace," educational workshop space and an admission-free introductory gallery.

The redesign also adds new climate controls to a non-collecting contemporary art museum that displays borrowed works from across the globe.

Visitors pass into the revamped building through an overhanging aluminum lattice, designed by New York-based SHoP Architects as a deliberate departure from Santa Fe's adobe-dominated skyline.

The overhaul adds luster to redevelopment efforts in the city's railyard district. SITE Santa Fe is expanding operations to seven days a week.

46th Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Set For Weekend LaunchThe Associated Press

The 46th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is set to begin Saturday and is expected to draw close to a million visitors to central New Mexico.

But concerns over crime in Albuquerque and the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas has organizers stepping up security measures.

Balloon Fiesta officials say additional resources will be dedicated all public gates and park and ride locations to check bags and purses. In addition, no firearms will be allowed at Balloon Fiesta Park unless by law enforcement officers.

The National Weather Service says much of Albuquerque is expected to see sunny weather throughout the week.

Money Flows Fast To GOP Candidate For New Mexico GovernorAssociated Press

Republican Congressman Steve Pearce of New Mexico says his campaign for governor has raised more than $1 million in less than three months.

Pearce said in a news release Thursday his campaign has received money from at least 930 contributors ahead of 2018 primary and general elections.

The Pearce campaign has not yet made public its list of contributors and other detailed financial information due Monday at the Secretary of State's Office.

Meanwhile, five nonprofit advocacy groups are criticizing Pearce's approach to public land issues in a project called "Step Up Steve" that includes online publicity and radio and print media advertisements.

The effort is backed by the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, OLÉ Education Fund, Hispanic Access Foundation, Progress Now New Mexico and Vet Voice Foundation.

Valencia County Commissioner Facing Bribery ClaimsAssociated Press, Valencia County News-Bulletin

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office has received a complaint in connection with a Valencia County commissioner accused of accepting money in exchange for a vote.

The office said this week state lawmakers asked Attorney General Hector Balderas to look into allegations Valencia County Commissioner Helen Cole took a bribe to support a solid waste contract.

The request came after a story about Cole in the Valencia County News-Bulletin.

Cole did not respond to an email from The Associated Press.

But Cole denied the allegations to the Valencia County News-Bulletin this week and said a former boyfriend is making false claims because she broke up with him.

Gallup Gets $1.5 Million Grant For Detox CenterAssociated Press

A U.S. agency responsible for providing medical services to Native Americans has awarded a western New Mexico city $1.5 million for its detox center.

The Indian Health Service announced this week that the city of Gallup will receive the five-year grant to "increase access to social detoxification" and help patients with alcohol abuse.

The Gallup detox center near the Navajo Nation received last year an annual operating budget for the first time in nearly four years.

City officials approved an annual budget of more than $1 million to Na'nizhoozhi Center Inc. Detox, freeing detox staff from having to spend time fundraising.

The Indian Health Service also awarded the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota $500,000 for its detox center.

46th Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Set For Weekend Launch - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

The 46th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is set to begin Saturday and is expected to draw close to a million visitors to central New Mexico.

But concerns over crime in Albuquerque and the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas has organizers stepping up security measures.

Balloon Fiesta officials say additional resources will be dedicated all public gates and park and ride locations to check bags and purses. In addition, no firearms will be allowed at Balloon Fiesta Park unless by law enforcement officers.

The National Weather Service says much of Albuquerque is expected to see sunny weather throughout the week.

Museum To Unveil Replica Of First Detonated Nuclear Bomb Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History is primed to unveil its newest piece of history — a replica of the world's first nuclear bomb to be detonated.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that on Friday, the museum will introduce a nearly to-scale replica of the Trinity Tower, which held the bomb, called the Gadget.

Jim Walther, executive director of the museum, says the tower comes from an old 50s-era fire observation tower taken down from a forest in Alabama. It's about 98 feet tall and made of 15,000 pounds of steel.

The Gadget replica will hang from a pulley as if in the midst of being pulled up into the tower prior to detonation.

The real Gadget detonated July 16, 1945.

Navajo Housing Authority To Forfeit $26M After SettlementAssociated Press

The Navajo Housing Authority will forfeit $26 million of the $96 million in federal dollars it was awarded for affordable housing projects as part of a settlement.

The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development had accused the housing authority of failing to use the federal funds to complete affordable home projects in 2012 as it had planned.

An investigation by the Arizona Republic found that the housing authority had a history of wasteful spending. Many of the newspaper's findings were later backed up by U.S. Sen. John McCain's office.

According to a statement from the housing authority released Tuesday, the $26 million will put back into the housing funding pool and will be counted in the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act allocation in 2018.

Judge Imposes Sanctions On City Over Police Shooting DeathAlbuquerque Journal

The judge in a lawsuit brought by the family of a woman shot by Albuquerque police ordered the city of Albuquerque be sanctioned for not preserving evidence.

The Albuquerque Journal reported the ruling by Judge Nan Nash cited numerous failures by the Albuquerque Police Department in the shooting of Mary Hawkes by then-APD officer Jeremy Dear. Those resulted in the Hawkes family being unable to obtain key evidence.

There were videos of the night Hawkes was shot when police chased her for allegedly stealing a car, but there also many malfunctions in the videos that prevented the cameras from actually capturing the shooting.

Attorneys for the Hawkes family said the cameras should have been preserved and Nash said that evidence could have helped plaintiffs. She said the sanctions are meant to “deter similar conduct in the future.”

Attorneys for the city plan to ask Nash to reconsider her ruling.

Report: Texas Men Died From Heat Exposure On New Mexico HikeCarlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

Autopsy findings show that a Texas man and his adult son had run out of water and died from heat exposure while hiking in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southern New Mexico in June.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported Tuesday that the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator listed the deaths of 57-year-old Robert Stuart Pluta and his 21-year-old son Robert Jr. as accidental, bringing an end to an investigation by authorities.

The bodies of the men from Corpus Christi, Texas, were found on a trail about a half-mile apart on a day when temperatures soared above 100 degrees. Both men were avid and experienced hikers.

Medical investigator Veena Singh says in the report that no naturally occurring water sources in the area could have provided relief.

Domestic Violence Suspect Shot In Encounter With OfficersAssociated Press

Albuquerque police say an armed domestic violence suspect was shot and wounded by at least one officer during an encounter with police.

Officer Tanner Tixier says officers responded to a 911 call Wednesday night from a female victim who said her boyfriend had beaten her up and was drunk and armed with a gun.

Tixier says officers located the male suspect and that at least one officer fired at the suspect after officers perceived an unspecified threat and initially used "less lethal munitions."

Tixier says it isn't immediately known how many officers fired or how many rounds were fired.

He says it's also unknown if the suspect fired at police but that a gun was found at the scene.

The suspect was hospitalized in stable condition. No identities were released.

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