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2 of 3 Officers Off Hook in Tasering

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two Albuquerque police officers involved in a May Tasering and beating incident are in the clear – criminally, at least.

Officers Ronald Surran and Shad Solis will not be charged in the incident, according to local prosecutors.

Misdemeanor battery and aggravated battery charges against a third officer, Connor Rice, are pending in state District Court, said Mark Drebing, chief deputy district attorney.

Drebing said he has not been contacted by federal officials, who are conducting criminal investigations of some APD officers, about the Rice case.

The U.S. Justice Department is also conducting a civil investigation to determine whether APD has a culture that promotes the use of unconstitutional excessive force. Federal officials have said they will focus on, among other things, APD’s internal “accountability mechanisms” for investigating use of force incidents.

Police Chief Ray Schultz did not respond to Journal questions Monday about where an Internal Affairs investigation into the May 31 incident stands or whether the three officers are still working as cops.

As of mid-August, Surran was on military leave from APD, according to top police officials. Technically speaking, he and Solis had been placed on desk duty, and Rice was on administrative leave.

The incident began May 31 over three grams of marijuana, two grams of hashish, one glass pipe and one digital scale.

Under pressure from news media, Schultz in August released video recordings of the incident taken from the officers’ lapel-mounted cameras.

The videos show Solis and Rice Tasering one man four times and Rice punching and jumping on the back of another who is screaming “I surrender.” The second man was being held at gunpoint by Surran, who had a boot on the man’s head.

According to APD officials, Internal Affairs investigators are looking into whether the Taserings and punching violate department policies. They also are investigating the way the officers’ superiors handled an initial probe of the incident.

Commander Mike Geier launched his own investigation into the May 31 incident and another involving Rice from the day before after receiving reports from two sergeants, officials have said.

Geier had placed Rice on a “60-day work plan” that limited his ability to use a Taser and put him under Geier’s supervision. The commander also was looking into Rice’s history to see whether any use-of-force issues had come up during Rice’s six years with APD.

But on July 10, officials have said, Geier’s investigation was cut short when KRQE submitted a public records request for video of the May incidents. APD brass, including Schultz, have said they were unaware of the Tasering and other use of force until the KRQE request and subsequent lawsuit seeking release of the videos.

APD officials above Geier decided to shelve the administrative investigation in favor of a criminal probe handled by detectives from the department’s Special Investigations Division.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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