A series of inappropriate text messages to a 17-year-old girl has cost APD officer Frank Tillman three months without the state certification that allows him to work as a police officer.
The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy board voted unanimously Tuesday to accept a deal reached by Tillman and the academy’s director, Louis R. Medina. Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz, a member of the board, recused himself from the vote.
In addition to the suspension, Tillman will serve a one-year probationary period and complete counseling.
Tillman, who was working in the APD traffic unit, stopped the pregnant teen last April and cited her for speeding. He dismissed the ticket in Metropolitan Court on June 10.
After a public records request, APD released a series of text messages between Tillman and the girl from June 10, 11 and 12. They show Tillman asking the girl whether she was still together with her boyfriend, telling her she was “beautiful” and he wanted to kiss her, and that her being pregnant “is hot and its (sic) a turn on.”
The girl responded to a number of Tillman’s texts, at one point telling him she wasn’t ready to “move on” because of her pregnancy.
An adult friend of the girl saw the texts and reported them to Tillman’s supervisor, prompting an Internal Affairs investigation.
Tillman recently finished serving a one-month, unpaid suspension from his job at APD. Top-ranking police officials had recommended he be fired after the IA investigation, but Schultz settled on the suspension instead.
In an interview after Tuesday’s board meeting, Schultz said Tillman will be placed in a yet-undetermined administrative assignment – meaning a job where he will still collect a city paycheck, but he won’t carry a gun or a badge or make arrests.
In brief remarks to the board during its quarterly meeting at the APD Academy, Tillman asked members to approve the deal. After a question from citizen-at-large board member Nate Korn, who owns an Albuquerque military and police supply store, Tillman told board members he had once received the APD outstanding service medal for his response to a workplace shooting at the Emcore Corp. in July 2010.
Anyone working as a police officer in New Mexico must be certified by the Law Enforcement Academy, and its board has the power to decertify officers or take other actions against their certifications.
Tillman, who is black, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging racial discrimination after he was reassigned to the APD records division, according to his attorney, Rosario D. Vega Lynn.
That complaint is still pending, Vega Lynn said Tuesday.
After the IA investigation was completed in October, Tillman was sent back out to do police work. But he was removed from the traffic unit and assigned to the Southeast Area Command to work as a regular patrol officer.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal