ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque police officer was fired May 10, almost a year after he and two other officers were seen on lapel camera video using their Tasers to take down suspected pot dealers.
Officer Connor Rice is also facing misdemeanor criminal charges for the May 2012 arrest, where he was seen on the video jumping onto the back of a suspect who had fled a Northeast Heights apartment and hitting him with either his hand or fist several times – all while a fellow officer pinned the suspect’s face to the ground with his boot.
When the suspect screamed, “I surrender,” Rice said, “Oh, you surrender, huh?” He then struck him several times, according to the video.
An Albuquerque Police Department spokeswoman on Saturday confirmed Rice’s termination but declined to comment further on the investigation or the reasoning behind firing the officer.
Rice and two other officers burst into the apartment building without a warrant May 31, 2012, in pursuit of a man whom they had seen at a nearby park and suspected of selling marijuana. Immediately upon entering the apartment, Rice shot a man inside with a Taser gun at least twice.
The lapel camera video later shows Rice jumping on a second man’s back and striking him.
Rice is facing battery and aggravated battery charges for the two alleged uses of force.
The District Attorney’s Office is now conducting witness interviews in preparation of a potential trial, and a plea deal is still possible. A status conference will be held in the coming weeks, according to Chief Deputy DA Mark Drebing.
Rice had worked with the department for about six years at the time of the arrest.
The suspects were initially facing charges of selling pot, but those charges were changed to possession and later dismissed.