Video Shows Officer Kicking Suspect

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Read the Latest Update: Police Officers Involved in Beating Fired

On Feb. 13, Albuquerque police officer Robert Woolever held a suspected car thief on the ground in a parking garage while officer John Doyle kicked the man in the head several times.

That much is clear from Doyle’s police report.

What his report doesn’t mention is what happened after the suspect was handcuffed and lying on the ground.

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Surveillance video from the parking garage shows the two officers walking a short ways away and then facing each other and bumping their bodies together twice. That portion of the video is from the waist down.

Deputy City Attorney Kathy Levy released the video after a public records request from the Journal.

Levy initially turned over a DVD with the video and played it for a reporter on a computer. It shows Doyle kicking the suspect more than a dozen times. That version of the video cuts off shortly after the kicking ends and is cropped on the right side. It does not show Doyle and Woolever’s interaction after they subdued Blume.

When asked whether that was the complete video, Levy said there may be a longer version that shows the officers “walking back into the frame.”

She then provided a thumb drive with the original, raw video from the parking garage at the Barcelona Hotel near Marble and Louisiana NE. That version shows the officers appearing to belly bump.

Deputy Police Chief Alan Banks and Levy declined to comment on the longer video, with Levy adding that she needed to “protect the integrity of the investigation.”

Both versions of the video show Woolever take the suspect, Nicholas Blume, to the ground and strike him in the head with his baton while he struggles to subdue Blume. Then Doyle runs up and kicks Blume in the head repeatedly while Woolever holds Blume’s hands behind his back. Blume appears to go limp about midway through the kicking.

Doyle wrote in his police report on the incident that he was concerned Blume may have been armed. He was not, although a stolen handgun was later found in the truck he was driving.

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Blume was indicted in state District Court in March on charges of auto theft, receiving a stolen firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm and resisting arrest. Those charges all stem from the February incident, and Blume is facing additional charges in state and federal court stemming from other incidents.

Blume’s attorney, Ray Twohig, has said his client could not speak with the APD detectives who investigated the beating without a promise of immunity because he is under indictment.

Blume remained jailed without bond late Tuesday at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

The investigations

After an investigation into the incident concluded last month, Internal Affairs investigators recommended the officers be disciplined.

Doyle and Woolever had disciplinary hearings with Police Chief Ray Schultz on Tuesday, Levy said.

“Both officers added additional information and positions they’ve asked (Schultz) to consider,” she said. “Discipline has been recommended – up to and including termination – and (Schultz) expects to announce his final decision on discipline (today) or the next day.”

Doyle has been on administrative leave since mid-May, when the incident came to Schultz’s attention. Woolever has been on desk duty since then. Both officers have been with APD about four years.

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APD Sgt. Ryan Buckner of the department’s special investigations division conducted a separate criminal investigation into the incident. Buckner turned his findings over to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, which appointed a special prosecutor because Doyle is a witness in more than 20 cases the office is prosecuting.

The appointment was only for Doyle, Seventh Judicial District Attorney Clint Wellborn told the Journal earlier this month. Wellborn’s office received the case late last month.

Bernalillo County Deputy District Attorney Gary Cade told the Journal earlier this month that he doesn’t think there is reason to charge Woolever. “I didn’t see anything in the video that would give me pause with regard to officer Woolever’s conduct,” Cade said at the time.

The special prosecutor, Timothy Cornish, a Seventh District deputy district attorney, said Tuesday that he is still reviewing the case. He said he would ask the Bernalillo County DA for an additional appointment to prosecute Woolever if there is enough evidence for a case against him.

The stop

On Feb. 13, Blume was driving north on the 500 block of Chama NE, and the license plate of the truck he was driving wasn’t visible, Doyle wrote in his police report.

Doyle and Woolever, who were riding together, followed the truck and, before Doyle could turn on his emergency lights, it stopped, the report states. Doyle got out of his police cruiser but the truck drove away. The officers again followed the truck until it crashed into the side of a building on Louisiana NE, according to the report. At that point, a man later identified as Blume got out and fled.

The officers gave chase, according to the report, and Doyle “realized (Blume) fit the description of a male who gang detectives were looking for.”

During the foot chase, Woolever yelled to Doyle that Blume was “reaching for his waistband,” the report states. Eventually, Woolever chased Blume into the hotel parking garage and pinned him to the ground “facedown with his hands underneath of him.”

The video, which has no sound, shows Blume’s hands behind his back during much of the kicking.

Doyle wrote that he gave Blume commands to show his hands and that Blume did not comply.

“With the subject’s hands at waist level, the possibility of him being armed, and the fact he was refusing verbal commands, I did not want to give up my advantage to get my firearm by going to the ground with the subject,” Doyle wrote. “After the subject’s refusal of verbal commands and because I thought he could be armed, I threw several kicks striking the subject on the side of his head.”
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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