A city Personnel Board hearing for fired Albuquerque police officer Jeremy Dear was postponed Wednesday morning after the hearing officer and APD balked at having local television stations film the proceedings – with top department brass scheduled to testify.
Dear, who has been with APD since 2008, was terminated in November by Police Chief Gorden Eden in connection with an Internal Affairs investigation that followed his fatal shooting of 19-year-old Mary Hawkes. He is appealing.
Thomas Grover, Dear’s attorney, said he and Dear made no objection to the cameras being allowed, and said it’s ironic the city’s witnesses who don’t want to be recorded are the same police administrators who fired Dear for not using his camera.
“The city didn’t want to be video recorded in a case about an officer who didn’t use his video recorder,” Grover said. “We’re talking about police officers. They are public figures. It’s ridiculous for them to assert any type of privacy.”
The notice of disciplinary action against Dear cited insubordination, untruthfulness and failing to comply with an order to record interactions with citizens while on duty.
Deputy City Attorney Kathryn Levy said Wednesday in an interview that the city’s hearing officer, Patrick Bingham, asked if cameras should be in the room and said he didn’t want to be recorded. She said she told Bingham that, in the past, video cameras have not been allowed and added that she didn’t believe the city’s witnesses – all of them APD officers – would want to be videotaped.
Dear has said his on-body camera was unplugged when he shot Hawkes in April, according to a review of the interview he gave investigators two days after the shooting and obtained by the Journal under a New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act request. A review of his personnel file showed he had previous use-of-force incidents that he had failed to record.
Levy said allowing reporters and the public in the room to take notes and audio record the hearing was never in question.
“Nobody’s trying to hide anything,” she said.
The city’s witnesses include Eden, Deputy Chief Tim Gonterman, Deputy Chief William Roseman, a lieutenant, two sergeants and an officer. That’s in addition to Dear and any witnesses he calls. Dear’s witness list includes 15 people, including other officers and city officials, according to city documents.
The hearing is on hold until Bingham gets an opinion from the City Attorney’s Office about whether or not he can ban cameras, Levy said. She said she would not be involved in writing the opinion.
“None of this does Jeremy any good because he wants to go back to being a police officer,” Grover said of the delay. He said Dear’s law enforcement certification is intact.
In addition to witnesses, Dear also is using about eight exhibits to contest his firing. They include his performance evaluation reports, interoffice memorandums concerning him and the news release that announced his firing, according to city documents.
In that release, Eden stated that Dear since 2013 had been under an order to record all interactions with citizens, which Dear and Grover dispute.
“Insubordination tears at the fabric of public safety especially when the officer makes a choice not to follow a lawful order,” Eden said in a statement at the time.
The Hawkes shooting occurred less than two weeks after the Department of Justice announced the results of an investigation into APD that found the department had a pattern of excessive force, which included police shootings. The lack of video footage of Hawkes’ shooting prompted an outcry after Eden said two days afterward that it was unclear why Dear’s camera didn’t record.
In its report, the DOJ cited a poorly enforced lapel camera policy as a contributing factor to APD’s problems.