Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
Four and a half years after she was shot and killed by an Albuquerque police officer, the death of 19-year-old Mary Hawkes is once again under review.
The Bernalillo County district attorney announced in a letter this week that the fatal shooting of Hawkes by former officer Jeremy Dear will be reviewed by a panel of three district attorneys from elsewhere in the state to see if they recommend charges against the officer.
District Attorney Raúl Torrez, in a letter to an attorney representing Hawkes’ family, said that after reviewing evidence in the case, he decided six months ago that another review of the shooting was warranted. But the panel only recently volunteered to review the case. He said that the state doesn’t fund such reviews and that the district attorneys have been busy with their own cases.
Hawkes’ adoptive mother “felt terrible that Jeremy Dear thought he had gotten away with it,” said Shannon Kennedy, an attorney for the Hawkes family. “So she felt so relieved that someone is really going to look at the evidence.”
Dear shot Hawkes – a suspected car thief – in a foot chase near Wyoming and Zuni on an early Monday morning in April 2014. Dear has said she had a gun and pointed it at him, but attorneys for the Hawkes family have questioned that account, saying it doesn’t jibe with forensic and other evidence in the case.
The city of Albuquerque reached a $5 million settlement with the Hawkes family in a civil case brought in connection with her death.
In February this year, special prosecutor Michael Cox recommended to Torrez that no charges be filed against Dear.
The panel of district attorneys “may well reach the same conclusion that Mr. Cox did regarding whether or not the state of New Mexico could satisfy its burden of proof in a potential criminal case against officer Dear,” Torrez wrote. “However, I do find that there are clear, articulable facts and matters of law which warrant further examination.”
Through a spokesperson, Torrez declined to comment further about the case.
Kennedy said in a letter to Torrez earlier this year that Cox overlooked several key pieces of evidence when recommending that Dear not face charges. She said there was deposition testimony from several officers on scene that they didn’t see Hawkes with a gun, and that Hawkes’ DNA and fingerprints were not found on a firearm that police recovered on the scene. That was just some of the evidence she said Cox failed to consider.
Torrez will ultimately have the final decision on whether Dear should face charges for the shooting.
Dear, meanwhile, remains a certified law enforcement officer in New Mexico and is working for a private company in Bosque Farms, said Thomas Grover, Dear’s attorney.
Grover said Dear has called for a transparent review of his shooting and that any problems with the investigation into the shooting were the fault of the former police administration, not Dear.
“I think this is politics at play,” Grover said. “I think Raúl (Torrez) is trying to get as far away from this case as he can because it’s a lawful shoot and he doesn’t want to be the guy who is tainted on this issue.”