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Hawkes family files civil rights lawsuit

Mary Hawkes

Mary Hawkes

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Family members of the 19-year-old woman killed by an Albuquerque police officer filed their third lawsuit in the case, this time specifically targeting the officer who fired the fatal shots for allegedly violating Mary Hawkes’ civil rights.

Her family previously brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, arguing the city was negligent. They also have filed a complaint to enforce the Inspection of Public Records Act against the city to try to obtain records in the case. All of the cases are pending in state court.

The family on Tuesday filed a 43-page civil rights complaint against Jeremy Dear, which detailed the now-fired Albuquerque police officer’s history of civilian complaints, internal affairs investigations, a child custody dispute and his behavior after the shooting – he and another officer on scene spent a day at Hooters and a “hole-in-the-wall” massage parlor shortly after the shooting.

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“Defendant Jeremy Dear is the bad apple,” the suit states. “His gratuitous killing of Mary S. Hawkes on April 21, 2014, was the culmination of his bromance with fellow officer Sonny Molina. Together, these officers created danger that would otherwise not have existed; used unwarranted, brutal force against Mary S. Hawkes, causing her death; and then relaxed after killing her by going first to ‘Hooters’ restaurant and then to a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ for a Chinese massage.”

Officer Jeremy Dear

Officer Jeremy Dear

Dear’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. Dear was fired by the department over an internal affairs investigation into his lapel camera use, but a personnel board voted to give him his job back. A city appeal of the board’s decision is pending.

The latest suit says that Hawkes’ civil rights were violated when Dear shot her during a foot chase by Wyoming and Zuni in Southeast Albuquerque. Hawkes was a suspected car thief and police said she pointed a gun at Dear.

But attorneys for Hawkes’ family have raised questions about the police’s account of the shooting. The suit states Hawkes’ DNA wasn’t on the gun found at the scene, and that video of the shooting, made by on-body police cameras, has been altered or deleted.

Shannon Kennedy, an attorney for the Hawkes family, said information obtained in depositions and other proceedings from the Hawkes’ family’s prior lawsuits, which included hiring experts to review police reports and data, were used to write this week’s civil rights lawsuit against Dear.

“This litigation seeks to deter other officers, like Defendant Officer Jeremy Dear, from taking human life with impunity,” the suit states.

Video allegations

The lawsuit says that the officers on scene the night of Hawkes’ death knew they would be exonerated if there wasn’t video of the shooting. The suit refers to a sworn affidavit by Reynaldo Chavez, the former police custodian, who said parts of videos that officers made the night of the Hawkes shooting were deleted or edited.

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The lawsuit says footage made by officer Isaac Romero appears to be missing the first 20 seconds and footage made by officer Tanner Tixier appears to have been altered.

The new lawsuit also refers to a Dec. 7 letter from Ed Harness, the director of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency, which said the CPOA suspended its investigation into the shooting after a preliminary investigation by the group found that “there may have been criminal activity by members of the Albuquerque Police Department.”

Harness said they made a “criminal referral” to the Department of Justice and also discussed the matter with the independent monitoring group overseeing Albuquerque police reform.

“We identified aspects that might be criminal and we didn’t think it was appropriate for APD to investigate,” Harness said in an interview.

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