As incidents involving body cameras increase, top manufacturer pushes them for all police

DENVER – Questions about the purpose of police body cameras and when their captured content should be publicly released have been renewed after the chief of police for Fort Collins said Sunday he wouldn’t release body camera video of one of his officers slamming a woman to the ground during an arrest until after an investigation.

The Fort Collins Police Department is one of a handful of Colorado law enforcement agencies that have bought body cameras for their officers, and one of few in the state that has pledged to outfit all of its officers with the technology. Continue reading

PNM working to lure Facebook data center to New Mexico

Facebook appears to be interested in building a new data center in New Mexico, according to filings made with the state Public Regulation Commission Friday by the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM).

PNM filed a motion with the PRC Friday asking it to consider fast-tracking an application it filed that would provide Facebook special service rates and allow PNM to build new renewable energy infrastructure specifically for Facebook.

The filing says Facebook approached PNM earlier this year to see what could be done that would entice the company to build a new data center in New Mexico.

In June, a power company in Utah filed a similar application with Utah’s public service commission that is expected to be approved or denied by August 31.

PNM’s filing requests the PRC rule on the fast-tracked application by the same date in order to stay in contention with Utah for the new data center.

“Lengthier regulatory proceedings in New Mexico will jeopardize New Mexico’s chances of [Facebook] selecting New Mexico as the site for its new data center,” the filing says.

But PRC will have to forgo several of its typical procedures in order to approve the application by August 31. PNM’s motion asks the PRC to approve the contract without a public hearing; to vary from its 60-day requirement if no protest to the contract is filed; to shorten the time by which the initial purchase agreement will be approved and to extend a purchase agreement into a long-term agreement after six months.

PNM is looking to initially provide the new renewable energy resources – likely through new solar infrastructure – for 100 percent of Facebook’s possible energy needs, which the utility company would recover from the company.

The agreement also seeks to provide an opportunity to increase infrastructure and power needs should the proposed data center grow over time.

PNM says the initial power procurement would be 30 MW of solar energy, which could increase to 60 MW and possibly 100 MW in the future according to other documents attached in the filing.

“PNM’s filing is a necessary step to ensure that we could meet the very specific needs of the potential new customer.  We regularly participate in state and local economic development efforts to attract new businesses and jobs to New Mexico,” said PNM spokeswoman Ryan Baca. “This is a responsible and creative strategy to support the effort to bring new business and jobs to New Mexico.”

Late last month, the Los Lunas Village Council authorized the first $5 billion of what is likely to be six equally-sized industrial revenue bonds for an internet data company called Greater Kudu, LLC, which is a subsidiary of a larger, yet-undisclosed internet company.

The proposed center in Los Lunas would be built at the 850-acre Huning Ranch business park near I-25 and Highway 6.

It’s unclear if Greater Kudu, LLC is linked to Facebook. Facebook has not yet committed to where it will build its new data center, but a spokesperson said the company is always evaluating potential new sites. More details of the filings can be found here.

Former NM senator will face trial in fraud case

Former New Mexico state senator Phil Griego will face a trial on most of the corruption charges he originally faced regarding his possible profit from a land deal in Santa Fe.

Second Judicial District Court Judge Brett Loveless ruled Friday afternoon that there is probable cause to pursue charges on nine of 10 criminal counts: two counts of violating the ethical principles of public service, one count of bribery, two counts of fraud, one count of perjury, tampering with public records, violating the Financial Disclosure Act and having an unlawful interest in a public contract.

Prosecutors and Griego’s defense attorney discussed the evidence behind the fraud and bribery charges earlier Friday, on the fourth day of the preliminary hearing.

The past two days of the hearing have been held in Santa Fe so state officials, attorneys and lawmakers could testify.

Griego is accused of making around $50,000 off the sale of a state-owned building in Santa Fe without disclosing his involvement to the state legislature.

His attorney has argued that several lawmakers knew of his role as a broker in the deal.

“I am grateful to Judge Loveless for hearing this matter and I am pleased with his ruling that will allow us to pursue justice on behalf of taxpayers,” said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. “My administration is committed to aggressively combating public corruption in New Mexico and holding the powerful accountable.”

Griego has pleaded not guilty to the charges. It is unclear at this time exactly when the trial will be held.

Teen suspect in Jaydon Chavez-Silver shooting pleads guilty to lesser charges

One of the teens charged in the fatal shooting of Jaydon Chavez-Silver in Albuquerque last summer pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the case Tuesday.

Nicholas Gonzales-Villasenor was indicted last August on first and second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, or their numerous alternatives.

Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to one count of shooting at a dwelling or occupied building with great bodily harm and conspiracy.

He had faced charges as a serious youth offender, but will no longer face the adult legal system since he will not be convicted of first-degree murder. He was arrested in the case in August, while he was already in custody on other charges.

He will be sentenced at a later date, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office told KOB.

Charges against two of Gonzales-Villasenor’s alleged accomplices – Donovan Maez and Christopher Cruz — were dropped in early June.The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office said at the time it did not have the evidence to proceed with their cases.

But District Attorney Kari Brandenburg did say at the same time she believed she had enough evidence to move forward in the cases against Gonzales-Villasenor and the fourth person charged in the case: Dominic Conyers.

Conyers was arrested in early March after police determined there were three shooters at the scene.

Chavez-Silver, 17, was killed at a party in northeast Albuquerque last June in a drive-by shooting.

Month-old baby was in ambulance when it rolled in crash near downtown Albuquerque

The southbound lanes of the I-25 frontage road were closed down for more than an hour at Mountain just before noon Tuesday after a crash involving an ambulance.

Albuquerque police say there was a 1-month-old baby aboard the ambulance when it crashed. The baby was being transported in an “isolette,” which is essentially an incubator.

APD spokesman Tanner Tixier says the ambulance was driving south on the frontage road with its lights and sirens engaged.

When it entered the intersection, a pickup truck going west on Mountain through a green light hit the ambulance, causing it to tip on its side.

The baby was extracted from the ambulance, taken to UNMH for emergency surgery and remains in critical condition.

Tixier says charges have not been determined for either party yet.

Monitor says APD use-of-force investigations out of line, but other areas have improved

The Albuquerque Police Department continues to struggle in implementing new use-of-force policies on the street and administrative levels but is improving in several other areas of focus under the settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, independent monitor Dr. James Ginger wrote in the agreement’s third progress report.

The 352-page report, which is the third of 10 that will be released under the settlement agreement, was released Friday and covers the period of December 2015 through the end of March 2016. The remaining reports will be issued incrementally over the remainder of the 41 months of the settlement agreement. Continue reading

NM Supreme Court: No legal ‘right to die’ for terminally-ill patients

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a 2014 district court decision that ruled terminally-ill patients in the state have a legal right to aid in dying.

The 2014 decision by 2nd Judicial Court Judge Nan Nash ruled that a 1963 state statute that made it a fourth-degree felony for a physician to help another person take their own life did not apply to physicians who give a lethal dose of medication to a terminally-ill patient. Continue reading

Denver jury: Former APS deputy superintendent not guilty of child sex abuse

Former Albuquerque Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez was found not guilty of four charges relating to the sexual assault of children Tuesday afternoon in Denver.

Martinez faced four counts relating to his alleged abuse of two young boys: two counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and two counts of sexual assault on a child with a pattern of abuse. He was acquitted of all four after about a day of deliberations by the jury.

The trial was Martinez’s second relating to the charges. In his previous trial last October, the judge declared a mistrial after the Denver jury failed to reach a unanimous decision in the case.

The boys Martinez allegedly assaulted were close family friends. They allegedly contact came during trips to visit Martinez and on vacations they took together. But Martinez had maintained since the first trial he was innocent and said one of the boy’s mothers had told the boy to lie about the allegations.

Martinez was hired by former APS Superintendent Luis Valentino after the district failed to complete a background check on him. Martinez was not supposed to leave Colorado as conditions of his release on the charges, and lied about having worked in Albuquerque when asked.

Valentino was forced to resign after the charges against Martinez came to light – just two months after he started on the job.

Martinez also previously worked for Denver Public Schools.

Denver District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said Martinez will be out on bond until his mid-August motion hearing for a separate assault case.

Report: Albuquerque boy shot and killed while camping with family in southern Colorado

A 7-year-old Albuquerque boy was shot and killed early Monday while camping with his family in southern Colorado.

The Denver Post reports the shooting happened around 8 a.m. Monday near Stunner Pass, which is located in between Alamosa and Pagosa Springs.

The Conejos County undersheriff said the boy was camping with three generations of his family when he somehow was shot in the chest. It is unclear exactly how the shooting happened.

Family members drove the boy to meet an ambulance, but the boy was pronounced dead after arriving at an area hospital.

The Post reports the county coroner said a local judge has imposed a gag order on the case.

Valencia County Sheriff’s Office vehicle stolen; suspect arrested in Albuquerque

A Valencia County Sheriff’s Office vehicle was stolen Wednesday morning and the driver was able to make it to Albuquerque before being taken into custody.

Valencia County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Gary Hall said the deputy’s cruiser was taken from near an Allsup’s near Highway 314.

Wednesday afternoon, Hall identified the suspect as 34-year-old Salvador T. Perez. He is in custody of the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office.

Hall said he will be charged with aggravated assault on a police officer and other yet unknown counts for Wednesday’s incident. He also had a felony warrant out for his arrest from Probation and Parole on child abuse charges.

The deputy was sitting in his patrol car when Perez walked up and bashed in the driver’s-side window with a metal rod, Hall said.

The deputy called for backup, reversed and got out of his cruiser to confront Perez when another deputy arrived.

At some point during the confrontation, Perez managed to jump in the patrol car and drive off.

Hall said deputies pursued him north into Bernalillo County, sometimes at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour.

A spike belt was successfully deployed and the vehicle was brought to a stop at the intersection of Isleta and Rio Bravo SW.

New Mexico State Police and Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies are assisting in the investigation.

Perez had an injury believed to be from before the initial confrontation with deputies and was transported to a local hospital.

Hall said there were weapons in the deputy’s vehicle when it was stolen. No deputies or others were injured during the confrontation or pursuit.