As Albuquerque residents take to the streets to protest against the ongoing slayings of citizens by their local police department, federal agents got into the act by opening fire on an unarmed man Tuesday morning, then seizing cameras from witnesses.
But more citizens with cameras arrived on the scene as a group of U.S. Marshals stood around the victim, Gilberto Angelo Serrano, proving unafraid to voice their displeasure at the trigger-happy culture that apparently has seeped into all levels of law enforcement in Albuquerque.
Realizing they were outnumbered by cameras, the U.S. Marshals could only ask people to stand back, not bothering to try and stop them from recording as they tried to wrap a bandage around the head of the man they had just shot, who was laying on the sidewalk bleeding.
But a witness named Gabriel Valdez said the Marshals confiscated his cell phone camera as well as his mother’s camera as “evidence,” when he did not even start recording until after the shooting.
The incident took place around 10 a.m. when a group of Marshals were trying to apprehend a fugitive who was driving his truck.
According to KRQE:
“Get out of the car! Get out of the vehicle! And then boom! She shot like right away. She just shot right away,” Gabriel Valdez said.
That’s how one witness describes the gunfire that rang out in the South Valley Tuesday morning.
“He never pulled out a gun, nothing,” one witness told KRQE News 13. “His hands were on the steering wheel.”
“This is enough! This is ridiculous!” another witness said.
KRQE News 13 talked to one witness who says he had his cell phone taken away from him.
“I have evidence on there they said because I have video on there, not video of the actual shooting, but of everything else,” Valdez said.
In an interview with a New Mexico live streamer, Valdez said that the Marshals first asked to see what he had recorded, so he handed them the phone.
Then once they had the phone in their hands, they refused to return it to him, not even to allow him to write down telephone numbers he had on the phone. That segment of the interview begins at 5:16 in the video below.
Valdez tells a completely different story than what was reported by KOB reporter Jen Samp, who tweeted that the U.S. Marshals were simply asking witnesses for their phones, not outright confiscating them.
Tuesday’s shooting prompted a group of demonstrators to gather with signs and protest about the recent shooting in Albuquerque.
However, a much larger series of protests took place over the weekend over the spate of Albuquerque police shootings that have left 23 citizens dead since 2010 (and an additional 14 wounded), which is the same year the department issued body-worn cameras to officers.
Although tensions remained high between police and citizens during the protests, resulting in police donning riot gear and lobbing tear gas towards the crowds, they were commended by the mayor for not actually killing anybody.
According to the New York Times:
Hundreds have taken to the streets in protest here in recent days over the shootings of Mr. Boyd and other people who most likely had mental illnesses, episodes that have weakened the public’s confidence in the Albuquerque Police Department and underlined the challenges faced by police officers when dealing with people with mental illness. In all, 23 civilians have been fatally shot by the police, and 14 others have been wounded since 2010, a series of events that has prompted a broader federal investigation into the department’s use of force.
The victims have been of various backgrounds. The first, Kenneth Ellis III, 25, was an Iraq war veteran struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, shot while holding a gun to his head in January 2010 at a gas station parking lot, where he had been pulled over by the police over suspicions of driving a stolen vehicle. One of the most recent, Mr. Boyd, was killed after pulling out a pair of knives during a lengthy argument with the police over his illegal camping on a mountainside.
A video of Mr. Boyd’s shooting, captured by an officer’s helmet camera and released by the Albuquerque Police, fueled the latest protests, most dramatically a march on Sunday that devolved from a peaceful demonstration into fiery street confrontations after protesters blocked Interstate 25, which cuts through the heart of the city. Officers in riot gear released tear gas at a crowd of people gathered by the sprawling University of New Mexico campus, some of whom wore the stylized face mask that has become the symbol of the computer hacking collective Anonymous, which claimed responsibility for a cyberattack that disabled the Albuquerque Police website Sunday.
In an interview on Monday, the city’s mayor, Richard J. Berry, said, “I saw the department act with professionalism and restraint throughout the day.”
A New Mexico t-shirt company designed a t-shirt using the Albuquerque Police Department’s acronym to look like the standard shirts they wear stating APD, but with the words, “Another Person Dead” beneath the APD acronym.
They were planning on wearing it for a protest on Tuesday over the homeless man that was shot while camping illegally, but that was before the Marshal’s shooting, so it’s not clear if they went through with their protest.