Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal
The Albuquerque Police Department on Thursday released the video that an undercover officer made at Roosevelt Park on June 21 during a demonstration against the police department after earlier denying public records requests for the recording.
Almost all of the more than five-minute video shows what police said it was going to show: a man being unruly. The video was made as a few people were gathering around a stage in the park.
But the video also shows about 25 seconds of continuous footage of Kenneth Ellis Sr. – the father of a man shot and killed by police in 2010 – speaking with a female protester while the incident involving the disorderly man continues off-camera. The footage focuses on Ellis and the protester for a little under a half-minute before returning to the confrontation.
Ellis said the incident captured on video happened just after the march started and several organizers were standing around a stage. The disorderly man appeared to be intoxicated and was yelling racial slurs, and a police officer eventually escorted the man from the park, Ellis said.
Ellis said he was skeptical police didn’t make more videos at the protest and that he was unsettled that he ended up in a recording.
“It actually scares me,” he said. “It scares me to think that out of all the people there they have video of me.
“I’ve cost them millions of dollars, but I’m not a threat.”
Ellis was referring to a wrongful death lawsuit filed after the fatal shooting of his son, Kenneth Ellis III. The Ellis family settled with the city for nearly $8 million.
APD spokeswoman Janet Blair did not respond to questions about whether the officer was deliberately recording Ellis.
During the demonstration on June 21, people marched and spoke out against the department’s use of force, one of many protests since police shot and killed a mentally ill, homeless man in the Sandia foothills in March. APD officers have shot and killed 26 people since 2010.
Deputy Chief Eric Garcia previously said there were five undercover officers at the June 21 protest but that only one made a video. Reporters who recognized the undercover officer said it appeared the officer was recording people throughout the demonstration, but APD has maintained there is no other surveillance data from the protest and that officers are not gathering information on people who are vocally critical of the department.
“What you see is what you get,” Blair said. “You’ve got everything.”
News that the police made a video recording upset people who had been at the protest and several said they were concerned APD was spying on them.
Garcia said the officer made a video recording because he suspected the unruly man of disorderly conduct. The man was not charged.
Police originally denied requests by the Journal and the ACLU of New Mexico for any pictures and video made by police at the demonstration, but officials said the denial was a mistake and the police released the videos Thursday.