Posted at: 11/09/2012 6:11 PM
Updated at: 11/09/2012 6:24 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Nearly two years after the death of a prominent civil rights attorney who built a career on successfully suing the Albuquerque Police Department her family is suing the department claiming bias within the department led to a botched death investigation.
In the more than 30-page lawsuit filed on behalf of Mary Han, her family accuses the department, Police Chief Ray Schultz and other city officials of botching the investigation into her death.
The family maintains Han was murdered and had the department not fouled up the investigation, her death would never have been ruled a suicide.
Almost two years ago to the day, November 18th, 2010, Han's law partner, Paul Kennedy, found her dead in her car at her home. He had been concerned when Han did not show up for work.
Police and medical investigators said Han killed herself. Autopsy and police reports stated, she died from Carbon Monoxide poisoning. But the lawsuit claims, her CO levels were too high to have been caused by her BMW, that has a sensor that automatically turns itself off to prevent this very thing.
The lawsuit further alleges, "Despite APD standard operating procedures requiring scene preservation and crime scene integrity, APD personnel allowed at least 26 individuals to trample the scene."
The legal document goes on to explain, "Within five minutes of his arrival, defendant Paul Feist declared the incident as a suicide and instructed all personnel to proceed as if the death was a suicide."
Feist was an investigator at the time and is now the department's deputy chief.
Darren White, the public safety director at the time, along with three deputy chiefs, were all inside Han's home, according to the legal document, just to look at the body of a woman who had fought the department in court, and won, many times.
The department would not comment on the lawsuit.
Deputy City Attorney Kathy Levy would not speak on camera but told KOB Eyewitness News 4, "We've reviewed the lawsuit and it does not state a cause of action under the New Mexico Tort Claim Act. The complaint is factually inaccurate. We are confident the court will dismiss the complaint."