The city of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Police Department on Friday released two cellphone videos, primary police report and list of all officers who responded to the scene at Los Altos Skate Park March 22, when 17-year-old Jaquise Lewis was shot and killed.
The videos are not likely to definitively settle the question of whether Lewis was armed and therefore shot in self-defense as claimed by APD. That’s because the resolution is poor, the video is unsteady and the events unfolded from a distance after dark.
Judge Victor Lopez issued a writ of mandamus Thursday ordering APD to fully produce all items sought by Lewis’s mother, Munah Green, and her attorney in an April 10 Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) request.
The initial public records request asked for nine groupings of public records relating to the shooting, including all police reports from Lewis’s March 22 shooting death, all 911 calls, “any and all unedited and unredacted videos” taken at the scene, including lapel camera footage, audio transcripts, a list of all APD officers at the scene, police radio broadcasts, and broader requests regarding the Los Altos Skate Park over the past five years.
Green and her attorney filed a civil lawsuit against the city and APD regarding the shooting, accusing APD of her son’s wrongful death and civil rights violations. The non-jury trial began Nov. 20.
The public records violations were a portion of the lawsuit, which claims APD used “selective screen shots” from cellphone video of the scene to make it appear as though Lewis had a gun in a May 8 news conference.
TIMELINE OF VIDEOS
The first video released contains the bulk of the incident from that night. It was shot by an unnamed person using a cell phone at the scene.
Editor’s note: The videos can be viewed in the video embedded below. If you’re on a mobile device, click here to view. Viewer discretion is advised. The videos are shown in full as they were released to KOB. The only edits made were a disclaimer and two small titles listing which video is being shown.
It starts with a group of people fighting at the skate park. Jaquise Lewis can be clearly seen wearing a Los Angeles Lakers jersey and white glove on his right hand. (Image below.)
57 seconds into the video, a man is seen pulling something from his back pocket while in a group of people. (Image below.)
Four seconds later, a person hidden in the crowd near that man is seen firing four shots into the air. (Image below.)
About 1:15 into the video, Lewis can be seen in the background appearing to take or give something to another person who is dressed in black. Lewis lunges at a group of people, and two shots are fired. Lewis is seen lunging backward. It is unclear who fired the shots. (Image below.)
At 1:26 in the video, Lewis is seen approaching a group of people nearer to the person shooting the video. His white glove can be clearly seen on his right hand, but this is the moment APD presented as a still photo that they say showed Lewis had a gun in a May 8 news conference. It is unclear from the video – even when it is viewed frame-by-frame – if there is a gun in his hand. (Image below.)
A woman is heard yelling what sounds like, “Don’t shoot! Get the f—- out of here,” though the first sentence is somewhat unclear. Just two seconds later, Lewis starts walking away from the group he had approached. (Image below.)
Three seconds after that, as Lewis is clearly walking away, a man in a black hoodie or shirt is seen shooting directly at Lewis as he walks, then runs away. Seven shots are fired within seconds. The muzzle blast can be seen in the photo. (Image below.)
The person recording the video flees. At 1:43 in the video, as the person recording is running away, 10 more shots can be heard. At 2:07 in the video, three more shots are fired. People are heard crying for several seconds, then the video ends at 2:49.
26 total shots are fired in the duration of the video.
A second video shows the aftermath of the shooting. People can be seen tending to a person who was shot in the foreground of the video, while someone is heard calling police and telling them their friend was shot. It ends shortly thereafter.
VIDEO DOES NOT CLEAR ANYONE
APD initially said Lewis had a weapon of his own and has maintained in the many months since the shooting that Lewis was firing into the crowd and that he was shot in self-defense. He is seen clearly throwing punches in the videos.
Green and other members of Lewis’s family have always denied that he was shooting into the crowd, and said the APD still image released June 22 only shows Lewis wearing the white glove.
The Office of the Medical Investigator’s autopsy report on Lewis’s death says he was shot twice in the incident – once in his torso and once in his arm. The wound to his torso “caused damage to the lungs, major blood vessels that carry blood to and from the heart, esophagus…and liver,” according to the OMI. It proved to be the fatal shot.
Lewis had no drugs in his system at the time of his death, but did have a .06 blood alcohol level, according to a toxicology report.
ABQ CITY ATTORNEY DISCUSSES VIDEO RELEASE
Albuquerque City Attorney Jessica Hernandez said APD wanted to keep the video withheld because they are still investigating the case and trying to identify other possible shooters. She gave KOB an interview Friday, three hours before the video was released.
“This is not a situation where the city has anything at all to hide. This is the law enforcement exception under the Public Records Act that says if it would compromise the investigation, withhold it,” Hernandez said. “So, this is not a situation where I said don’t produce it because I don’t like what it shows. This is not that at all.”
“We do believe that we were justified to not produce this because we genuinely believed at APD that it would compromise the investigation if it were produced,” she continued.
ASSED RESPONDS TO PUBLIC RECORDS PARTIAL RELEASE
Assed said he was pleased with Judge Lopez’s decision Thursday to grant the release of all the records he requested in his initial public records request.
“We are very pleased and not surprised by Judge Lopez’s decision in the IPRA complaint civil case. We embrace the decision and are pleased that the City of Albuquerque has as well without appeal,” he said in a statement to KOB.
Assed said he is now reviewing the items released Friday and would answer questions later.
“We believe this is step one to bringing closure to the family,” he said in the statement. “We will continue to work on behalf of the family of Jaquise Lewis and look forward to assisting them with the answers concerning the death of their 17 year old son.”
OTHER RECORDS CONTAINED IN FRIDAY RELEASE
APD also released, in addition to the two videos, two other portions of the public records request Friday: the initial police report by APD and a log of every officer who showed up to the scene that night, for how long, and whether or not they turned in any lapel camera video from the incident.
The police report, of which a portion is attached, contains a short explanation of what happened that night, and focuses on several victims.
Editor’s note: Only a portion of the police report is attached because the rest of it lists victim’s names and addresses, which KOB will not release.
In addition to Lewis, at least one other man was shot. At least four other people suffered injuries that were documented in the initial police report, but none were explicitly listed as gunshot wounds.
The other person who was shot would not tell police who shot him, only saying he saw a fight in the parking lot and tried to intervene before he was shot in the chest.
The officer then talked to Lewis’s girlfriend, who was initially “very uncooperative,” according to the report. But she was eventually able to point the officer to Lewis, who was already dead at the time.
Several of the others who suffered injuries had already been transported before the officer who wrote the report was able to speak with them.
The personnel list of officers who showed up to the scene the night of March 22 and through the afternoon of March 23 lists 64 officers, though at least two of them are listed multiple times, and two units have no name associated with them.
Of the 64 units listed as having responded, 21 are listed as having uploaded lapel video.