ALBUQUERQUE (CN) – After killing their daughter, with his body camera off, and making up a story that the teenager was armed, an Albuquerque cop “relaxed” by going to Hooters, the teen’s parents say in a lawsuit against the city and officer.
Former police Officer Jeremy Dear was pursuing Mary Hawkes in April 2014 after finding her cellphone in a stolen truck. He saw her on the street at about 5 a.m. and pursued her on foot, as part of a seven-member team of officers, according to the Dec. 20 lawsuit in Bernalillo County Court.
Dear says that when he caught up to the teen, she put a gun in his face, giving him cause to shoot her to death. But her family says she had no gun.
They describe Dear as a “wolf … running with a pack, all in uniform.” In the 10 months before he killed 19-year-old Mary, despite a standing order to record each citizen contact with his lapel camera, Dear “violated this order to record citizen contacts literally hundreds of times before he took a human life,” they say in the complaint.
The only defendants are the city and Dear, but the Hawkes say the uniformed “pack” of officers contributed to and covered up their daughter’s death.
“Each officer who saw Mary S. Hawkes running from them failed to record her flight,” the complaint states. “They failed to capture or else subsequently destroyed defendant Officer Jeremy Dear’s gunning down of her on their respective lapel cameras. As long as the video and audio recordings did not exist they knew defendant Officer Jeremy Dear would be presumptively believed by their chain of command and exonerated. Thus, in the immediate aftermath of her killing, defendant Officer Jeremy Dear and Sgt. Maurer had one care: his lapel camera. Sgt. Brian Maurer, on scene, ordered him to turn it off, while his partner Sonny Molina assured him with two words: ‘Good shot.’”
The family says that Dear and Molina had “perfected gaming the broken [police] department,” and that Dear’s “gratuitous killing” of Mary Hawkes “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.”
Dear, who said his lapel camera had become unplugged during the shooting, was fired later that year. Police Chief Gorden Eden told the press that Dear demonstrated “a clear case of repeated insubordination and untruthfulness,” and had repeatedly failed to turn on his body camera.
The Hawkes challenge the official story of the killing in numerous ways in the 43-page lawsuit, with an additional 14 pages of exhibits.
They say that though Dear claimed Mary was holding a gun, the gun found at the scene had no DNA or fingerprints on it, and body cam footage from another officer appears to show that her body was moved between frames.
“In frame 516, Mary S. Hawkes’ location appears to have moved a number of feet, as the blood evidence is clearly visible in the camera but the body of Mary S. Hawkes is no longer immediately adjacent to the blood and is no longer visible in the video,” the complaint states.
Dear repeatedly refused to answer questions in a July 19 deposition taken by the family’s attorney, citing the Fifth Amendment. Thirty-five pages of the deposition are attached as an exhibit to the complaint, four deposition pages per page in the complaint. Among the questions Dear refused to answer was why none of the bullet wounds were on the front of Mary’s body.
Mary was killed 11 days after the Department of Justice released a scorching report about unnecessary killings by Albuquerque police. And two weeks ago, the Department of Justice said it is investigating whether Albuquerque police alter video cam evidence.
The Hawkes family sued the police department in March for wrongful death, spoliation of evidence, negligent hiring, training and supervision, unreasonable seizure and warrantless arrest and unconstitutional use of force. In the new complaint, they seek damages for deprivation of civil rights.
In October this year, the police department’s former custodian or records, Reynaldo Chavez, said in an affidavit that the Hawkes’ video, among others, had been altered, and that records were routinely “bleached” or deleted during his time on the force.
“Reynaldo Chavez attests that the city’s motivation was twofold,” the Hawkes family says in the new lawsuit. “The city wanted to appear to be following Chief Eden’s edict to record all encounters with civilians on the one hand, while, at the same time, preventing any damaging recordings from reaching the public.”
The family claims that Deputy City Attorney Kathy Levy told Chavez to “deny, withhold, obstruct, conceal, or even destroy records,” at times, and would tell him “there are items we just will not release and we will just pay the fines or lawsuits.”
Chavez also was told to find creative ways to dodge records requests, to “‘baffle’ or frustrate the requestor or otherwise burden them,” according to the complaint.
The Albuquerque Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.
The family seeks punitive damages for wrongful death, pain and suffering, deprivation of civil rights resulting in death, and costs of suit.
They are represented by Shannon Kennedy with Kennedy, Kennedy, and Ives, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Published by Courthouse News Service.