Albuquerque police officer Al Walck was ordered to alter injury information and remove references to prescription drugs from his report on a single-vehicle accident involving the wife of then-Public Safety boss Darren White, his lawyer claims.
Police Chief Ray Schultz said Thursday he was not aware of any such orders given to Walck.
According to attorney Brian Thomas, Walck was preparing to testify in a criminal case in Metropolitan Court five days after the accident involving Kathleen White when he received a visit from his sergeant and two police service aides.
Sgt. Mike Woolley and the PSAs told Walck they had verbal orders from Deputy Police Chief Beth Paiz that Walck needed to make several changes to his report on the July 6 crash, including removing references to a prescription drug Kathleen White said she was taking, Thomas said.
According to Walck’s report, Kathleen White told officers and paramedics she was taking Lamictal for anxiety. According to the Physicians Desk Reference, Lamictal “may cause blurred vision or impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert and able to see clearly.”
Thomas said Walck recounted the details of what happened July 11 at Metro Court during a Wednesday interview with investigators from the city’s Independent Review Office, which Mayor Richard Berry’s office ordered last week to investigate questions surrounding the crash.
Paiz said she couldn’t respond to Walck’s claim because of the IRO investigation.
According to Thomas, Woolley also told Walck that Paiz had ordered him to change a portion of his report indicating there had been no injuries in the crash, make a grammatical correction, and include information about who towed Kathleen White’s Porsche and to where.
Walck agreed to fix the grammatical error and add the towing information, Thomas said, but told Woolley and the service aides that Paiz would have to put the orders regarding the prescription drugs and injury information in writing.
Thomas said Woolley and the PSAs left the courthouse and returned an hour later to notify Walck that he was the target of an APD Internal Affairs investigation. That investigation was later called off.
After the crash, Darren White drove his wife to seek medical attention rather than let an ambulance take her. He stepped down from his job as city Public Safety director last Friday, saying he did nothing wrong and maintaining that his wife had suffered a seizure at the time of the crash.
Thomas said White approached Walck at a Northeast Albuquerque convenience store the day after the crash.
“He volunteered the information that his wife would not be able to drive for a month, per her doctor’s orders, because she had had a seizure,” Thomas said.
Reached by telephone Thursday, Paiz said she is scheduled to speak with IRO investigators Monday and could not respond to Thomas’ comments.
“The IRO is doing his investigation, and we each have our piece to say,” Paiz said. “I certainly have my piece to say, but, for now, I have to follow the directives that have been given to me.”
Schultz said Thursday that Internal Affairs had been looking into why Walck did not complete his report the day of the incident, contrary to department policy. He said IA investigators forwarded the information they collected to the IRO.
On July 11, the chief said Walck’s original report was rejected due to mistakes involving whether Kathleen White’s car had been towed, a box checked in the original report indicating a second vehicle having been involved in the crash and a few grammatical errors.
Earlier that day, the Mayor’s Office said Walck also refused his commander’s order to complete the report.
Walck’s report has a box checked indicating the crash he was responding to involved an injury. But he indicated in another box labeled “injury code” that there had been none.
Thomas said the checked box shows the type of call Walck was dispatched to; the “injury code” box was filled out with a zero because Kathleen White had told him she was uninjured.
Kathleen White crashed her Porsche into a curb in the Northeast Heights shortly after 8 a.m. July 6. Police and fire emergency personnel arrived at the scene, as did Darren White.
He drove his wife from the scene to the hospital after she declined to be taken by ambulance, and he later said doctors told the couple she had suffered from a seizure.
In his report, Walck checked the box labeled “under the influence of drugs or medication” in a section titled “apparent contributing factors,” and another officer’s report said the two officers discussed the possibility of a drug recognition expert being called to the scene.
No DWI investigation was conducted. Schultz said there was no probable cause to do so.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal