Judge rules APD must rehire fired officer

Posted at: 11/12/2013 6:13 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Former APD Officer Russell Perea
Former APD Officer Russell Perea

A judge says the city of Albuquerque must rehire a police officer it fired two years ago, but the city doesn’t want to.

Former Officer Russell Perea was Levi Chavez’s partner on the night in 2007 when Chavez’s wife died. Chavez was accused of killing her, and Perea was questioned about what happened. Chavez was acquitted on murder charges, but the city believes Perea lied to his supervisors about that night on duty. The court disagrees.

A district court order says the city failed to demonstrated wrongdoing by Russell Perea when they fired him in 2011. Now, they must rehire Perea and give him more than two years' worth of back pay.

“My client feels vindicated. Once again. there's now been three independent reviews of this from the hearing board to personnel board and now a district court judge,” Perea’s attorney Sam Bregman said.

After APD fired him, saying he violated standard operating procedures and lied to his supervisors, a city personnel board disagreed and said they should rehire him.

The city says they still believe Perea lied and they don’t want him on the force. They released a statement reading:

“We’re evaluating this problematic ruling from the court that is forcing us to take back a Police Officer that we felt we had sufficient grounds to terminate.  We’ll be reviewing Judge Bacon’s decision and exploring all appellate, administrative, and policy options that are available.”—City Attorney David Tourek