Thursday News Roundup: Santa Fe Archbishop Says APD Reforms Needed

Jun 26, 2014

Santa Fe Archbishop Says Police Reforms NeededThe Associated Press

Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan says the fatal police shooting of a man struggling with schizophrenia convinced him that the Albuquerque police need drastic reforms.

Sheehan told The Associated Press yesterday that before the 2011 shooting of 27-year-old Christopher Torres, he generally supported the embattled Albuquerque Police Department. But Sheehan says after that shooting, he began to have serious doubts the agency could change without federal intervention.

A New Mexico judge ordered the city of Albuquerque this month to pay more than $6 million in connection with the wrongful death of Torres in his yard by two undercover officers.

The judge wrote the use of deadly force violated Torres' constitutional rights.

The city is negotiating with the U.S. Justice Department over pending ordered reforms concerning use of force.

Video Can't Be Obtained From Policeman's Lapel Cam - The Associated Press

The manufacturer of the lapel camera an Albuquerque police officer was wearing during a fatal shooting can't conclusively say why video wasn't recorded.

Officer Jeremy Dear was involved in an April 21 chase with 19-year-old Mary Hawkes, who was suspected of stealing a truck.

Police say Hawkes pulled a weapon on Dear, prompting the officer to fire his gun.

Albuquerque police were unable to obtain video from Dear's camera and sent it to the manufacturer.

Taser International officials say they don't know if Dear failed to record the incident or if a power connector on the lapel camera failed.

Dear remains on administrative assignment as the criminal and internal investigations continue.

Forest Officials To Close Sandia Mountains - The Associated Press

Forest officials have decided to close the Sandia and Mountainair ranger districts due to continued drought and high fire danger.

The Cibola National Forest issued the closure orders Wednesday. It will take effect Monday and included the Sandia Peak Ski Area and Crest Scenic Byway.

The ski area will be delaying the opening of the summer mountain biking season and scenic chairlift rides.   

Sandia Peak Tram and the High Finance Restaurant and Deck will not be affected by the closure.

Forest officials say the closures are necessary to protect public health and safety due to the extreme fire danger.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service say more hot temperatures are likely through the weekend.

Numerous Cars Vandalized In Santa Fe Parking Lot - The Associated Press

Police in Santa Fe say they're investigating criminal damage, vandalism and burglary to numerous cars in a Rail Runner parking lot.

26 cars either had windows damaged or tires slashed and seven batteries were stolen.

Police are working with Rail Runner officials to obtain surveillance footage of the vandalism.

Investigators believe the damage was done sometime late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Police say they're looking for suspects in the case.

Inmate Back In Custody At Albuquerque Jail - The Associated Press and KOB TV

An inmate inadvertently released from an Albuquerque jail is back in custody.

KOB-TV reports that authorities say Taylor Roberts was located Wednesday night at a hotel after being wrongfully released from Metropolitan Detention Center.

A hotel manager says Roberts checked in earlier in the day and paid for an entire month's stay.

Jail officials say employees made an error reading court documents, leading to the release of Roberts.

According to a criminal complaint, Roberts allegedly damaged his ex-girlfriend's home in March and called her 300 times in three days. He also is accused of violating a restraining order by sending her several emails.

Authorities say Roberts already has a warrant out of Kansas for several charges, including witness intimidation.

Navajo Nation Wildfire Now 90 Percent Contained - The Associated Press

A wildfire that has burned nearly 23 square miles of terrain on the Navajo Nation just east of the Arizona-New Mexico border is almost fully contained.

Fire officials say Assayii Lake Fire was 90 percent contained by Wednesday night.

Crews say they are securing the last of necessary fire lines around the southwest area of the wildfire west of Long Lake.

They say passers-by will continue to see smoke as some spots within the fire area are still smoldering.

Authorities say anyone driving in the area should proceed slowly for firefighter and public safety.

The human-caused fire began June 13 and forced evacuations from the rural communities of Naschitti and Sheep Springs.

New Mexico Rep: Facility Will Encourage Immigrants - The Associated Press and Artesia Daily Press

A New Mexico state representative says a federal facility in Artesia that will temporarily house immigrants suspected of entering the country illegally will encourage rather than deter immigration.

State Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell told the Artesia Daily Press on Tuesday the rooms at Artesia's Federal Law Enforcement Training Center are nice and packed with televisions and toys. She says the rooms send the message, "Why not try to come back, if this is what America has to offer?"

The Republican from Roswell questioned the use of federal dollars at a time when veterans aren't getting proper health care.

Ezzell and other southeastern New Mexico elected this week toured the center as officials work to prepare to hold around 700 immigrants.

Clovis Postpones Decision On Water Rights PurchaseThe Associated Press

Clovis city commissioners were set to consider a $1.8 million proposal to purchase water rights from an eastern New Mexico farming family to ensure supplies for Cannon Air Force Base.

But the special meeting scheduled for Thursday has been cancelled. City officials did not say why, only that it would be rescheduled for a later date.

The proposal calls for buying water rights associated with more than 900 acres of farmland owned by J.L. and Betty Lou Wall.

Clovis and the base depend heavily on the Ogallala Aquifer. Hydrologists have warned that the underground water supply has been declining for many years.

City officials say ensuring Cannon has a sustainable water supply is critical for the community given that the base has such a significant economic impact throughout the region.