Tuesday News Roundup: ABQ Mayor Says It Was Wrong To Say Police Shooting Was Justified

Mar 25, 2014

Mayor: Wrong To Say Albuquerque Shooting Justified - The Associated Press

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry says it was wrong for Police Chief Gorden Eden to say officers were justified in killing a homeless camper in the Sandia foothills. And Berry said Monday he wants to bring in outsiders to help investigate.

In a rare show of public displeasure with the city's troubled police department, Berry criticized Albuquerque's new police chief for making a “premature" judgment about the fatal shooting that left 38-year-old James Boyd dead.

Authorities said Boyd died after officers unloaded stun guns, bean bags and six live rounds. Eden said Boyd threatened to kill officers and held onto knives as an unarmed K-9 officer approached him.

A helmet camera video showed Boyd, who police say had a lengthy criminal record, gathering his belongings then turning away right before officers fired.

Demonstrators are planning to protest the shooting. A coalition of various groups will gather downtown Tuesday evening before marching to Albuquerque police headquarters.

The shooting comes as the department is under a U.S. Justice Department investigation over excessive use of force and three dozen police shootings since 2010.

Court Rejects Appeal In Swastika Branding Case - The Associated Press

The Supreme Court has refused to review the hate crime conviction of a New Mexico man who participated in branding a swastika on the arm of a Navajo man with mental disabilities.

The court acted Monday in the case of William Hatch, among the first people charged under a 2009 law targeting hate crimes involving disabilities or sexual orientation. Hatch and two other men lured Vincent Kee from a McDonald's in Farmington, N.M., to an apartment where they used a metal coat hanger to burn the swastika onto Kee's arm.

Hatch pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a federal hate crime.

Homeland Security To Launch Cyber Safety Campaign - The Associated Press

Homeland Security Investigations is launching a new effort aimed at educating New Mexico children to avoid sexual predators online.

The agency is scheduled Tuesday to announce its Project iGuardian, a national cyber safety campaign sending agents to school and youth groups.

The campaign will use hero-style characters and trading cards to warn students about the dangers of online predators. Officials say agents will soon pass out educational materials around Albuquerque.

The campaign also will encourage parents to talk to children about child predators and how predators use the Internet to sexually exploit minors.

Kevin Abar, assistant special agent in charge in New Mexico, said iGuardian is one of many tools Homeland Security Investigations has to stop predators.

Judge To Decide Whether To Reopen Bids On Sunland - The Associated Press

A federal bankruptcy judge in Albuquerque is expected to decide Tuesday whether to reopen bidding on the defunct Sunland peanut butter plant in eastern New Mexico.

The trustee overseeing the liquidation of the Portales plant has asked to be allowed to consider a $25 million cash offer from Canada's Golden Boy Foods. That came in a day after another company won a closed auction with a high bid of $20 million.

The trustee says the higher offer could mean the difference between whether or not unsecured creditors will get any payments Sunland, which filed for bankruptcy last year following the salmonella outbreak that prompted a nationwide recall and shuttered its operations for eight months.

Attorneys for winning bidder Hampton Farms argue that invalidating the already-held auction would jeopardize the integrity of the system.

NM Hunters Get Big Win In Federal Court - The Associated Press

It's a big day for New Mexico hunters now that a federal judge has lifted a long-standing injunction that put them at the bottom of the list for drawing licenses to hunt bighorn sheep, oryx and ibex.

U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo's decision came Monday in response to a motion from the state Game and Fish Department. She found the injunction was no longer equitable because of changes in the law.

The injunction stemmed from a legal fight in the 1970s in which a Texas man challenged New Mexico's higher fees and lower quotas for non-resident hunters.

With the ruling, New Mexico game officials say they will reinstate quotas starting with this year's draw that will give state residents an advantage when applying for licenses to hunt the three species.

Judge Considers Cash Offer For Peanut Plant - The Associated Press

A last-minute cash offer is threatening a North Carolina company's winning bid for a bankrupt peanut butter plant in eastern New Mexico.

A federal bankruptcy judge in Albuquerque is holding a hearing on whether to invalidate last week's auction for Sunland Inc., which filed for bankruptcy following a salmonella outbreak that shuttered its operations and prompted a nationwide recall.

Just before the auction was to be finalized Friday, the bankruptcy trustee received a $25 million cash offer from Paul Henderson of Canada's Golden Boy Foods.

The company has since transferred that money to a title company and stands ready to purchase the plant.

The judge is considering whether to let the trustee take the higher offer. The extra $5 million has the potential to result in a payout for unsecured creditors.

Financial Adviser Charged In Navajo Criminal Case - The Associated Press

Prosecutors say a former financial adviser for the Navajo Nation's legislative branch funneled tens of thousands of dollars to her children in violation of tribal law.

Criminal complaints filed recently in Window Rock District Court allege that Laura Calvin personally signed off on more than $46,000 in requests for her children and stepchildren. She has been charged with six counts of conflicts of interest.

Telephone numbers listed for Calvin in Window Rock were nonworking numbers. Court documents do not list a defense attorney.

The charges stem from an investigation into the use of a discretionary fund meant for Navajos who had no other way to pay expenses and that prohibited nepotism.

Prosecutors say three of Calvin's children and four stepchildren received nearly $80,000 from the fund over several years.

Bosque Farms Frustrated By Flood Insurance Hikes - The Associated Press

In the small village of Bosque Farms that borders the nearly dry Rio Grande south of Albuquerque, home and business owners have shelled out more than $600,000 a year recently for federally subsidized flood insurance. The payments covered claims that have totaled only $2,192 during the decades-old life of the program.

And the rates just keep going up.

This year, 275 homeowners in the village of 3,900 people are set to see rate hikes of up 18 percent a year as the federal government works to put the troubled National Flood Insurance Program back on sound financial footing. An Associated Press analysis of the program has found that as many as 1.1 million policyholders with subsidized government insurance will still be hit with steady rate increases across the country.