An Albuquerque police officer fatally shot a suspected car thief on Monday during a foot chase in which, officials said, the suspect pointed a gun at the officer as he closed in on her. The shooting occurred 11 days after the Justice Department rebuked the Police Department for engaging in a “pattern or practice of unconstitutional use of deadly force.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/22/us/beleaguered-albuquerque-department-reports-another-fatal-shooting-by-police.html?ref=us
Police Chief Gorden Eden made a terse statement to reporters in the morning, reciting the basics of the shooting, like its location — “the officers spotted the suspect running east” of Wyoming Boulevard on Zuni Road. Later, the department released the sex of the victim, the first woman to be fatally shot by the police here since 2010. As of early evening, her name had not been released because her relatives had not been notified.
Chief Eden said the officer had been placed on administrative leave, standard procedure in shootings involving the police.
Tensions over the department’s use of deadly force have resulted in heated protests against the police in recent weeks.
Twenty-four people have been killed by the police since 2010, and the city has paid several millions of dollars in legal settlements as a result of some of the deaths. None of the officers involved in the shootings have faced criminal charges or, in most cases, other types of internal reprimand.
The Justice Department report said inadequate training, improper oversight and “systemic deficiencies” had fostered a culture of permissiveness among officers and undermined the community’s trust in them.
In its report, the result of a 16-month investigation into allegations of abuse by the police here, the Justice Department listed 44 remedies. Among them were significant revisions to training so officers learn to rely more on verbal warnings and less on stun guns. Stun guns were used pervasively in nonlethal confrontations, including those that involved elderly, drunken or emotionally disturbed individuals.
The report also suggested the use of clearer procedures for handling people with mental illness, a common thread among most of those killed or wounded in police shootings here. It is unclear if mental illness was a factor in Monday’s shooting.
Mayor Richard J. Berry named a retired veteran of the department, Robert Huntsman, this month as the assistant chief in charge of overseeing the changes, particularly as they apply to the $1 million set aside for crisis-intervention training and programs. The choice raised questions among community leaders because of Mr. Huntsman’s close ties to Chief Eden — The Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico’s largest newspaper, described them as close friends — and because many of the shootings took place before he retired in May 2012.
“While he was there” at the Albuquerque Police Department, “it was pretty bad,” Ralph Arellanes, state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said Monday. The league was one of the first groups to call for a federal investigation of the police.
Mr. Huntsman is just one part of a team that the mayor is assembling to help overhaul the department, Mr. Berry said Monday afternoon. Others include Scott Greenwood, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union national board, and Tom Streicher, a former police chief of Cincinnati, he said.
Mr. Berry said he saw no problem with the friendship between Mr. Huntsman and Chief Eden. “I have two individuals who have known each other over the years and have a mutual respect for each other,” he said.
Mr. Huntsman will serve as a go-between for Chief Eden and the Police Department’s field services, support services and investigative bureaus, and will supervise its internal affairs unit and training academy. He is to attend a training session scheduled for police officers on Thursday, and the Justice Department has invited residents to attend that event and bring suggestions.
Federal officials have also urged the community to submit comments and concerns by phone or through email, and invited advocacy and civic groups, victims, police officers and union representatives to a series of yet-to-be-scheduled meetings.