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Judge rules fired APD officer won’t get job back

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

By Ryan Boetel/ Journal Staff Writer

Jeremy Dear

A controversial officer who was fired after repeatedly failing to make recordings with his on-body camera — including on the night he shot and killed a 19-year-old woman — won’t return to the Albuquerque Police Department, a judge has ruled.

Second Judicial District Judge Clay Campbell reversed a decision by the city of Albuquerque’s Personnel Board, which had voted to allow former officer Jeremy Dear back on the force, and reinstated a hearing officer’s opinion that firing Dear was fair game.

Former APD Chief Gorden Eden previously said he considered Dear to be insubordinate, because he frequently failed to record his interactions with the public, despite being ordered to do so.

In the ruling issued Thursday, Campbell echoed the chief, saying, “Termination from employment was appropriate as (Dear) had been repeatedly insubordinate by failing to record and had a prior history of disciplinary actions for insubordination.”

Campbell’s order brings an end to a years-long fight between the city and Dear, who in April 2014 shot and killed 19-year-old Mary Hawkes during a foot chase. A lawsuit is pending against Dear and the city over her death.

Thomas Grover, who is Dear’s attorney, said in a text, “We are disappointed, of course, and can’t understand why the city under (Mayor Richard) Berry and (Police Chief Gorden) Eden had such an agenda on Jeremy Dear. Chief (Michael) Geier testified in support of Jeremy at the hearing and as we’ve always said, there was no order (to record every interaction with the public) and even if there was, it was an unlawful order.”

Grover said that Dear is looking at options and may consider continuing his fight to get his job back.

“We’ve already received information from former members of APD that confirm the city’s action was based on false allegations,” Grover said.

Shannon Kennedy, an attorney representing the Hawkes family in the civil case against Dear, said she spoke with Hawkes’ adoptive mother, Mary Alice Hawkes, and she was “utterly relieved” by the judge’s decision.

“She said, ‘Thank goodness for God and good judges,’ ” Kennedy said, recalling their conversation.

Kennedy also credited the strides and reforms APD has made since the Hawkes shooting.

“I really feel that if the (crisis intervention tactics) training had been in place back then, she’d still be alive today,” she said.

Gilbert Gallegos, a police spokesman, said the judge’s decision reaffirmed the city’s decision to fire Dear, which was made by Eden.

“We look forward to continue working with our dedicated officers on community policing,” he said.

Eden fired Dear during December 2014, saying the officer didn’t comply with an order to record every encounter with citizens. Police said Dear was given that order in June 2013 after several residents filed complaints against him.

But it was the shooting of Hawkes that thrust Dear into the spotlight.

The shooting came less than two weeks after the Department of Justice had announced that APD had a pattern of excessive force, which included unjustified police shootings.

When Hawkes was shot, she became the 24 person killed by Albuquerque police in a period starting in 2010 and the third person killed by police in a little over a month.

Her shooting was slightly over a month after two officers shot and killed James Boyd, which led to protests against police in the streets of Albuquerque and murder charges against two officers. Neither officer was convicted.

Hawkes was suspected of stealing a motor vehicle, and police tracked to her to a mobile home park near Zuni and Wyoming and set up a perimeter. She scaled a fence and fled across Wyoming, with Dear giving chase.

What happened next is the subject of the ongoing lawsuit.

Dear said that she stopped, turned and pointed a gun at him so he shot her. He said his camera was unplugged so it didn’t record the shooting.

Attorneys for the Hawkes family have said that her injuries are inconsistent with Dear’s account. And they said a lack of DNA evidence or fingerprints on the gun that was recovered from the scene only heighten their suspicion surrounding the case.