APD charges Lobo J.J. Caldwell with misdemeanor battery - Albuquerque Journal

APD charges Lobo J.J. Caldwell with misdemeanor battery

J.J. Caldwell (11), shown playing against McNeese State in November, has been charged with misdemeanor battery. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Albuquerque police on Jan. 24 filed a criminal complaint charging Lobo basketball player J.J. Caldwell with a misdemeanor charge of battery against a household member connected to a December allegation from an ex-girlfriend.

The woman told police on Dec. 16 that she and Caldwell, broken up at the time for several months, saw each other at a club the night of Dec. 14, argued, and then later got into a fight in his apartment in which he struck her and put his hands around her neck.

Police did not charge Caldwell at the time.

The Journal learned of the recent criminal complaint on Saturday morning and was able to obtain a copy of the complaint, which largely reads the same as the police report filed in December. That report was referred to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office for review to see if charges were warranted.

The DA’s office transferred review of the matter to the 12th Judicial District in Alamogordo after questions arose about a potential conflict of interest with 2nd Judicial District Attorney Raul Torrez reviewing the criminal allegation while his wife, University of New Mexico Dean of Students Nasha Torrez, was overseeing the campus suspension and any potential student code of conduct violation of Caldwell for the same allegation.

Caldwell’s attorneys now question the Albuquerque Police Department’s motives in filing charges for a case it initially opted not to charge and instead referred to state prosecutors for review.

“The 12th Judicial District Attorney was referred these allegations but did not file the complaint, so we are very suspicious about the timing and motivation behind APD’s actions,” attorney Paul Kennedy told the Journal. He and Justine Fox-Young are representing Caldwell in the criminal matter and in a civil rights lawsuit he has filed against UNM and others alleging his due process rights are being violated.

Saturday afternoon, APD spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos issued the following statement:

“1. The victim went to the Family Advocacy Center on Dec. 16 to report the incident that occurred on Dec. 14 after she and Caldwell left the nightclub. The allegations were documented, but the officer was not able to interview Caldwell. So, he issued a summons for misdemeanor battery for Caldwell. The summons goes to the court and is eventually filed by the court and mailed to the defendant. That is what is timestamped Jan. 24 in Metro Court.

“2. The victim also reported an incident that occurred three months prior. Those felony Domestic Violence allegations were forwarded to the District Attorney to consider whether to file felony charges. That is the case that was forwarded to an outside DA. Detectives with our Criminal Division are supposed to meet with that DA next week.”

The Journal, in an article previewing Saturday’s Lobo basketball game in Fresno, referenced Caldwell’s suspension continuing despite charges not yet being filed. The Journal apparently wasn’t the only one caught off guard by APD’s decision to charge Caldwell on Saturday.

“It is unusual for a police department to refer a case to a district attorney’s office (for review) then not seek our guidance before filing charges a month after the initial allegations were brought,” 12th Judicial District Attorney John Sugg told the Journal.

Sugg said he plans to be in Albuquerque this week to interview witnesses and further investigate both the Caldwell allegation referred to his office and an allegation made against now former Lobo forward Carlton Bragg. Suggs added he hopes to ask APD about its decision to move forward without consulting his office.

UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez said he learned of the charge being filed for the first time when the Journal called him Saturday morning.

UNM’s student athlete code of conduct does say pending misdemeanor charges can result in a suspension, but the university has not said specifically why Caldwell is being withheld from all team activities.

On Friday, Caldwell posted on his Twitter account, “Everyday a struggle … just want my life back.”

Kathy Love, the attorney representing Caldwell’s ex-girlfriend, told the Journal on Saturday morning when asked about Caldwell’s comments, “Any challenge these circumstances have caused Caldwell are multiplied for the victim who is dealing with not just changes to her life, but trauma from Caldwell’s abuse.”

The ex-girlfriend told the Journal in December she still loved Caldwell, but felt reporting the incident to police was the right thing to do. She also expressed frustration with the nature in which the officer took her report on Dec. 16. The woman said she felt uncomfortable with reporting the matter and didn’t understand why the officer would write in the report, “She had no visible injury to her face where she said Joseph struck her and no signs of strangulation on her neck.”

Caldwell, the Lobos’ starting point guard for the first 13 games of the season, has been suspended since the Dec. 22 game against Houston Baptist after UNM was informed of the allegation from his ex-girlfriend, who filed with Albuquerque police her report on Dec. 16, two days after she says the incident happened. The two had been broken up since the summer. She says there was also at least one incident of physical violence that she and her family made UNM aware of in the summer.

In a letter she wrote in the summer, the woman asked UNM to get Caldwell help, but never asked that he be removed from the team or school.

According to state court records, the criminal complaint, filed by APD officer Brendon Ast, was filed with Metropolitan Court on Jan. 24 with a summons issued Jan. 27 and an arraignment hearing set for Feb. 19 with Judge Jill M. Martinez being assigned to the case.

The criminal complaint includes reference to an “arrest date” of Dec. 17, but Caldwell has never been arrested related to the current allegation, his attorney confirmed Saturday.

The signature of the sergeant who approved the criminal complaint is illegible on the court document, though next to the signature is printed “SGT 3386.”

Caldwell remains on scholarship at UNM and is allowed to use team facilities for workouts, but not in coordination with the team or participate in any practices, film sessions or other team activities until his suspension is lifted.

The matter is also being reviewed by UNM’s Office of Equal Opportunity as a potential Title IX violation.


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