ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Nearly six months after the Albuquerque Police Department said the man who allegedly shot and killed a 17-year-old at the Los Altos Skate Park did so in self-defense, the District Attorney’s Office has not received a completed case file on the investigation.
On March 22, Jaquise Lewis was killed during a fight between two groups at the northeast Albuquerque park. Six others were injured, one of whom is now paralyzed. In early May, APD announced that the man who shot Lewis had been interviewed, but they believe he fired in self-defense. APD said the case would be submitted to the DA’s Office for a final decision on the case.
That hasn’t happened.
Kayla Anderson, a spokeswoman for the DA’s Office, said once prosecutors receive the completed file, they will either agree with APD, or decide the case should be presented before a grand jury or a preliminary hearing.
APD has also not made public a cellphone video of the shooting taken by a witness, and Lewis’ family has sued the department for its release. On Wednesday, District Court Judge Victor Lopez ruled that the family’s civil case should go to a nonjury trial. He will begin hearing the case on Nov. 20, according to court records.
In May, APD released eight stills from the video that they say shows Lewis firing into the crowd before he was shot. Lewis’ mother, Munah Green, his grandmother and an attorney have seen the video and say it does not show Lewis firing.
Last April, Green’s attorney, Ahmad Assed, requested all videos – along with several other documents about the case – from the police department under the Investigations of Public Records Act. The department has not released any documents, and in July, Assed filed the lawsuit against the city alleging an IPRA violation.
“I’m hoping that APD decides to move forward and settle the matter in a reasonable fashion,” Assed said in an interview with the Journal on Friday. “We’re not being unreasonable; all we want is the information so we can asses it in an objective fashion.”
Assed has also put the city on notice of a lawsuit alleging a violation of the New Mexico Tort Claims Act. He said he’s not sure if Lewis’ family will file a wrongful death lawsuit, or allege other violations. He said they won’t have enough information to proceed with the case until their records request has been completed.
If Judge Lopez decides APD has to release the requested documents, Assed said he will make them available to the public regardless of what they show.
“If the evidence suggests that my client’s son was shot in self-defense, we’ll live with that,” Assed said.
An APD spokesman has previously said the department doesn’t want to release to the video in order to ensure that people who come forward as witnesses are telling the truth, but he said on Thursday detectives are no longer investigating.
“The investigation is finished, but the compiling of the investigation into a case file has taken a while,” said officer Tanner Tixier.
He said the detective hopes to have the case submitted next week and recent high-profile homicides have delayed its completion.
“Additional homicide investigations that could appear between now and then could set that back,” Tixier said.