ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Special prosecutors have determined, for a second time, that former Albuquerque Police Department officer Jeremy Dear should not face charges for the high-profile fatal shooting of a 19-year-old woman in 2014.
Dear shot and killed Mary Hawkes following a foot chase through southeast Albuquerque after police linked her to a stolen truck. Police officers found a gun next to Hawkes’ body, although an attorney for her family has maintained that it’s possible it was placed there or moved.
The special prosecutors, Chris Shultz and Reynaldo Montaño, pushed back on that theory in a 32-page letter of findings to APD Chief Michael Geier, saying “there is no physical evidence, or eye-witness testimony, that would contravene, or render implausible, Officer Dear’s assertion that Hawkes pointed a gun directly at him at close range.”
The shooting resulted in a $5 million settlement from the city to the Hawkes family. Dear was fired from APD for repeatedly failing to turn on his lapel camera, including during the shooting.
After reviewing all the evidence, the special prosecutors determined they could not prove that Dear wasn’t acting in self defense. They said he would be able to raise the defense of justifiable homicide by public officer.
“In order to convict Jeremy Dear all 12 jurors would have to believe, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Jeremy Dear did not have probable cause to believe that Mary Hawkes posed a threat of death or great bodily harm to himself, or others,” the prosecutors wrote in their letter. “We believe the evidence is compelling that he did, and that a jury would agree. Therefore we believe it is not possible to obtain a conviction on Jeremy Dear, and prosecution is unwarranted.”
Dear’s attorney, Thomas Grover, said his client is now doing “odds and ends” jobs and volunteering as a firefighter and is hopeful that the determination will put the case behind him.
“We’re super happy to see that this leg of the issues confronting him is now closed,” Grover said. “While it was indefinite that there hadn’t been any conclusion in the criminal prosecution, that’s kept him from getting positions in law enforcement that otherwise he would be qualified to obtain.”
Dear was fired from APD in late 2014 and has appealed the decision multiple times, taking the case to District Court, the Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court.
In 2018, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez announced the shooting would be reviewed by special prosecutors for a second time. A previous special prosecutor had already determined no charges should be filed.
Shannon Kennedy, the attorney for the Hawkes family, said Shultz and Montaño produced a much more comprehensive report of the case than the conclusions delivered by the first special prosecutor. However, she said, it also provides a detailed record of many of the unanswered questions in Hawkes’ death.
Kennedy plans to draft another letter to DA Torrez about the analysis and other issues.
“We are going to continue the dialogue,” Kennedy said. “I’m sure the family will never rest until they know the truth about how their daughter died and this certainly doesn’t bring them closer to the truth.”
– Read the full prosecutorial review.