Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
A former law enforcement officer and police video expert hired by the city said segments of videos made the night a police officer shot and killed 19-year-old Mary Hawkes and subsequently released were not altered, and that in his opinion Hawkes was holding “an object” in her right hand seconds before she was shot.
“I have also formed the opinion that the object she is carrying is consistent with the size, shape and reflective values of the gun that was seized from the sidewalk next to her body at the time of the shooting,” Grant Fredericks, the city’s expert, said in a report he completed in January.
The report was part of an ongoing civil case Hawkes’ family has brought against the city and former officer Jeremy Dear, who shot Hawkes in April 2014.
The city provided the Journal with Fredericks’ report and copies of 14 videos made that night after the Journal reported on a sworn affidavit from Kevin Angell, a former police detective and expert hired by the Hawkes family to analyze video in the case. Angell claimed some of the videos had been edited because the video is titled as a “clip,” which means it’s a segment of a longer video.
Fredericks acknowledged that some of the videos filed into evidence are titled as “clips,” but he concluded that video data showed they were original recordings.
Those segments had not been altered in any way, he said.
But the Hawkes’ lawyer contends that because some of the videos are “clips,” there may be videos that police made the night of the shooting that haven’t been released.
“Their own expert admits that those are clips. He admits they are clips on Evidence.com,” said Laura Schauer Ives, one of the attorneys for the Hawkes family.
Schauer Ives said that while Fredericks found the video segments hadn’t been altered, attorneys for the family believe that some videos officers made that night were deleted and question whether critical information was “clipped” from the videos that have been released.
But city officials said all relevant video footage related to the shooting has been made public and that the video analysis indicates the shooting was justified.
“The important thing with the case: you want to analyze the evidence that is depicted in the video to see if it supports the justification to use deadly force, i.e., that she had a gun,” Rob Perry, the chief administrative officer for the city, said in an interview. “It looks like there was an image of the gun.”
Perry said the city’s expert shows that the videos police have made public from the night of the shooting are authentic.
“It shows authenticity,” he said of Fredericks’ report. “It provides a great deal of quality assurance to the video … and you can draw conclusions from the video.”
Fredericks, in his report, said there are no scientifically mandated guidelines that advise law enforcement to produce audits of redactions of video evidence. He also said that “the original video file’s integrity in this case has been maintained and is unchanged.”
Axon, the company that operates Evidence.com, explains “clips” on its website:
“You can create a clip for any segment of an evidence file and assign the clip a title and description. For example, if a 10-minute video includes a 30-second segment that captures important actions and audio, you can create a clip for the important segment,” the website says. “When you want to share only a portion of an evidence file with others, you can extract a new media evidence file from the clip and share it rather than sharing the original evidence.”
According to Perry, “The report speaks for itself. I don’t know if there was any video from earlier in the night that would have been useful or not useful. That’s kind of speculative to me. I think what I’d focus on is video that captured the time closest to the incident. That seems to me to be a great deal more important.”
Former officer Dear shot Hawkes in April 2014. She was a suspected car thief, and Dear said he was chasing her when she stopped running and pointed a gun at him, after which he opened fire.
Hawkes’ family has since sued Dear and the city, claiming that forensic evidence in the case doesn’t match the police’s story and that Hawkes was running from Dear when she was shot.
Dear said his on-body camera was unplugged at the time of the shooting and didn’t make a recording.
Police Chief Gorden Eden fired Dear in December 2014, claiming that an audit of Dear’s lapel-camera use showed he didn’t make video recordings on many of his calls. He has appealed his termination, which is pending in state district court.