DOJ hears complaints from public

Posted at: 03/06/2013 10:26 PM
Updated at: 03/07/2013 7:44 AM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Tuesday night's officer-involved shooting happened while the Department of Justice is in town, investigating the Albuquerque Police Department.

Wednesday evening was the fourth and last meeting with the public, held at the Palo Duro Senior Center.  The goal was to talk to locals about their experiences with APD, and was scheduled before Tuesday's deadly SWAT standoff.

Each person who filed inside had a different story to share, but also shared the same underlying incentive, to question APD's practices.

Up until Tuesday night, it had been more than six months since the last police shooting in Albuquerque.

Before that, from late 2009 through 2011, APD reported 25 officer-involved shootings; 17 of them fatal.

Some of the people who signed up to talk to the Department of Justice had concerns and complaints that went back a few years.

"Police used to be peace keepers; not here in Albuquerque," Mike Gomez, who attended the meeting, said.

Gomez held a picture of his son, Alan, on a poster.  Alan was shot and killed by an APD officer during a confrontation nearly two years ago.

"They're ready to lie, they're ready to hide, and they're going to do the same thing over and over again until us, the people of Albuquerque, come forth and stop them," Gomez said.

KOB Eyewitness News 4 was not allowed inside the room where the one-on-one interviews with the DOJ were conducted.  The reason being, the DOJ tried to create an environment where people could speak up in confidence and make their concerns heard.

"Enough is enough," Jason Sanchez, who just got out of the hospital after a violent arrest, said.

Sanchez would not go into details about his case; but said, after the latest shooting, he wanted to speak up.

"They should be trained," Sanchez said.  "Not trained to kill... trained to stop."

For most, the DOJ meetings were not about fixing the past; but rather, promoting future change on behalf of those who cannot.

"Albuquerque, I was born and raised here, and it did not used to be like this years ago," Camille Duncan, who also attended the meeting, said.  "I hope that out of all these meetings maybe that the police officers and the community can form a bond of sorts."

No word yet on when the findings from the DOJ investigation will be released.