The City of Albuquerque has been rocked by the scandal over its pattern of abuse and police culture involving misuse of force. More citizens have been shot dead than in most major metropolitian areas combined. Recently they were caught fabricating charges against citizens who attempted to meet with the Mayor but instead were met with force to prevent this and when they then engaged in an impromptu sit-in thirteen were arrested on trumped up charges. [Citizen Video Evidence Exonerates New Mexico Activist Group]
Now, with regard to that same incident on June 2nd, and after members of the City Council took him to task for his questionable activities and role in the events that evening – the City is unlawfully withholding key video evidence of what the Chief Administrative Officer, Robert Perry, filmed and said during the sit-in.
At the most recent City Council meeting the Council President, Ken Sanchez, confronted Perry for his filming of the event rather than attempting to “de-escalate” the situation. The Mayor’s Deputy, Gilbert Montano, can be heard on video stating to the arresting officer (who arrested one person claiming he battered him – and twelve others for trespassing and two other misdemenor offenses) that he was not going to approach the situation with the use of force but intended to “de-escalate” the situation.
The video evidence also shows that, while filming with his cell phone, Perry speaks to Montano about this issue. The videos from that cell phone have since been requested, by no less than three persons including myself, under New Mexico’s public records law. The City, however, has failed to provide all the video files that Perry recorded that night – and have selectively provided only about three minutes of what the video evidence already publicly available proves was between ten and fifteen minutes worth of video – including all the videos where Perry can be seen speaking only inches from the camera’s microphone.
Perry was also confronted at that last Council meeting by Councilman Rey Garduno for misrepresenting the facts of what occured that night by falsely claiming that the citizens “invaded” the office. As Garduno noted – he has seen the video evidence for himself – and that simply is not what occurred that evening. The citizens walked peacefully through an unlocked door which opened up to a public waiting area – adorned with thousands of dollars of publicly paid for art. [The City has now “secured” that area – making that public art effectively the private perks for the City’s Mayor and his deputies such as Perry [City Hall gets security upgrade after mayor’s office sit-in].
In the above video montage and analysis all the video evidence that has been gathered is presented together on one screen, divided into four quadrants, and synchronized on a second-by-second basis. Each time the individual videos clearly show Perry using his cell phone to record the events the video shows this with a “Perry Recording” banner.
The video first captures Perry engaging in recording of the events at 2:37 – which corresponds, using what files from the cell phone have been given, to approximate 3:04 pm. It is a further nine plus minutes before the first file provided under the public records request begins. Thus all the prior video, proven to have been taken in the video compilation, has been unlawfully withheld.
[See Public Records Requests and Related Documents Below]
The City provided one person who requested these records six video files, in consecutive numbered files created automatically by the phone’s operating system (from IMG_0527.MOV to IMG_0532.MOV), beginning with the first file filmed at 3:14 p.m. and running for 1 minute and 7 seconds, the second starting fourteen minutes later, at 3:28 p.m. and lasts for 29 seconds. These are followed by two files that contain video segments of only 1 second in duration taken at 3:30 p.m. After this the fifth video file, IMG_0531.MOV begins at 3:31 p.m. and lasts 32 seconds. The final video file provided begins at 3:35 p.m. and is 1 minute and 32 seconds long.
All of the videos that have been provided by the City appear in the compiled evidentiary video – starting at 12:04 into the video.
These files were claimed to be ready for the first requestor to pick up on Thursday, June 12th. The next day, Friday, they were picked up and analyzed. At that point I placed those videos into the compilation of videos and was able to prove the failure of the City to fully and faithfully comply with New Mexico’s public records law.
Although it was an identical request – it was only on Friday that I was notified that the records were ready to “inspect” and if I chose to have those I wanted “copied” to a disc. I notified the Mayor’s public records custodian that I would have someone come and review the original files, not copies made from the phone, which is a requirement of the law and would allow the reviewer to see the listing of files on the phone’s drive. Thus – at such a time – the files that were sequentially prior to those provided could be requested – and by law had to be provided. [A third, independent request that included these videos, only had those videos provided on June 25th – even though the evidence is that the City had these videos available for production as early as June 12th. Such a delay, as well as the inconsistency and differential treament of requestors for the same records, are violations of the law.]
The response from the City was that they refused to allow a review and inspection of the original files – although failing to provide a legal basis which authorizes such a denial.
I then, on the following Monday, made a specific request to be given, via electronic transmission (via email – which is provided for under the law), one file from the request, as a “copy,” and referred to it explicitly by file name (IMG_0526.MOV). As the phone’s operating system automatically creates the filename, based on a sequential ordering, and creates with it a time stamp of when the video was recorded – this was a simple deduction from the facts.
Not only does the evidence show that, at minimum, at least one earlier file must exist – but the nature of the file structure created by the operating system necessitates that there is, on the phone, at least a file (regardless of the date and time made) titled IMG_0526.MOV. Given the other video evidence it is necessarily a video that contains at least part of the missing June 2nd videos taken by Perry at the Mayor’s office.
Rather than comply – the City’s records custodian sent an email, providing my original request with a highlighted paragraph, stating that I was willing to pay the a reasonable fee for a DVD if made – at the City’s published fee of $5. Although this was the first time the City mentioned a requirement to pay – it set the fee, contrary to that published policy, at $6.75.
However – the records custodian seemed to assert that because I was willing to pay for a DVD copy of the files – that I was only permitted to obtain files in that manner – and that the City did not have to provide me with selected individual files nor to provide them to me electronically. Again – no legal basis for these claims, which the law cleary does not authorize, was provided.
In the two weeks since – the City has taken the position that they will not only refuse to provide that particular file – but that they would just ignore the lawful demand for its production – and in fact have ignored repeated attempts to get them to respond to why, and under what legal authority, that file was being withheld. They have been sent from one to two reminders and reassertions of the request each day since – yet have not acknowledged the lawful demand for production.
It is thus clear that the City, with the clear involvement of Robert Perry himself (who effectively runs the City), is wilfully and knowingly withholding the videos and thus intentionally violating the public records law.
What they are hiding is also abundently clear. Perry’s actions – and even more his statements which would be clearly audible on the video files – constituted not merely inappropriate behavior but most likely unlawful activities.
More on this story will be presented as this matter plays out – ultimately leading in the near future to civil litigation to obtain the records and declare the City’s actions and inactions to date to have been clear violations of the law’s requirements. Making the case even more problematic for the City, in my follow ups to obtain this file I have included for their knowledge and as a public record establishing evidence of their knowing and wilful failure to comply, the powerpoint presentation that was used to teach these officials how and why to comply with the law – proving that the officials acting in this manner were explicitly trained to comply as I have requested and not to act in the manner that they have. [CITY PRR TRAINING]
More on the story of Albuquerque will follow soon – with a detailed presentation of details about the police department’s attempts to infiltrate the recent March Against Police Brutality, on June 21st, and to use undercover officers to spy on those engaged in lawful and constitutionally protected activities.