Despite a drop in police-involved shootings and policy changes in the wake of a recent incident, civil rights advocates said this week they will keep pressing for a federal investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department.
Advocates still would like to see certain officers and police supervisors replaced, said Jewell Hall, president of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center Board.
The city has seen only one police-involved shooting since August. Still, Hall said that doesn’t erase previous cases of officer-involved shootings involving blacks and Latinos that still need to be investigated.
“It doesn’t change my mind,” said Hall, who has met with U.S. Justice Department officials and pressed for a probe along with other activists. “I still would like to see more changes within the department. I’m not convinced that this is happening.”
U.S. Justice Department officials have not said if they would launch an investigation.
Last week, Albuquerque police Officer Mario Perez shot and killed Mark Macoldowna, 31, after he fired twice at Perez during a robbery attempt of the Albuquerque Catholic Center, police said. It was APD’s first officer-involved shooting since August, and the 21st since January 2010. Fifteen of the police shootings have been fatal.
Police said Macoldowna was a “Constitutionalist” who hated Catholics and had been convicted of weapons charges in El Paso. His accomplices in the robbery were girlfriend Kymberly Bates, 24, and James Kellogg, 33. Both were arrested in Ruidoso and are charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and kidnapping.
The shooting is under investigation by State Police, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office in the context of reforms suggested by an outside organization hired to review the Police Department. The city’s independent review officer also is examining the case.
Perez is a seven-year veteran of the department and was placed on leave pending the investigation. He had not been involved in any previous on-duty shootings, according to Police Chief Ray Schultz.
Hall said the decline in shootings isn’t necessarily a sign of improved trust between police and community members.
“We can’t say, oh, we didn’t kill this many this year as we did last year and call that progress,” said Hall. “These aren’t pork or hogs. These are human beings.”
— This article appeared on page C01 of the Albuquerque Journal