New Albuquerque police shootings cited for meeting

January 8, 2014 • State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Justice Department investigators told activists on Tuesday that recent shootings by Albuquerque police prompted federal officials to return to the city for a closed-door meeting, advocates said.

League of United Latin American Citizens state director Ralph Arellanes told The Associated Press on Wednesday that investigators named the recent shootings as one of the reasons they returned to Albuquerque to gather more information. Federal officials met with advocates during an invite-only gathering that was closed to the media, [auth] but those who attended spoke to reporters afterward.

“They cited the recent shootings as one of the reasons they had returned, among other things,” Arellanes said. “They also said they are done with their fact-finding portion of the investigation and are ready to move onto the next phase.”

The Albuquerque Police Department is under a federal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department over alleged cases of excessive force. Albuquerque police have seen close to three dozen shootings by officers since 2010 and five during the last three months of 2013.

Critics have blamed the shootings on a departmental culture that fosters brutality. The shootings have drawn protests and lawsuits by advocates.

Jewel Hall, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center Board and a critic of the police department, said federal officials told advocates they are near the end of their investigation yet did not say when it would be completed. “They didn’t give us a lot of information, but they did say the end was near and that they were preparing a letter,” Hall said. “I’m confident something will get done.”

Federal officials have said the investigation, which began at the end of 2012, might lead to more required training, other structural overhauls or no changes, depending on investigators’ findings.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in New Mexico said there will be other meetings this week with DOJ staff, city officials, union representatives and community leaders.

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