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Body camera (File photo by MGN)

New Mexico police deleted body camera footage of shootings, according to a former employee

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A former Albuquerque employee said in an affidavit that other officer had altered and deleted videos that showed controversial moments, including two shootings.

The former employee, Reynaldo Chavez, was listed as the "central records supervisor." He said officers deleted images that captured shootings, including the death of Jeremy Robertson in 2014. At one point, Chavez said he heard an assistant chief say "We can make this disappear," when referring to a police camera with an SD card.

What to do with 'problematic' reports

Chavez said officers were told not to mention recordings in their arrest reports if parts of the recording were deemed "problematic." In some cases, they were told to say the camera malfunctioned or the officer had forgotten to turn it on.

After Mary Hawkes, 19, was shot and killed in 2014 by then-officer Jeremy Dear. he said his camera was unplugged, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Hawkes' family later sued the city, claiming it violated state law by keeping Dear on staff.

The shooting received national attention when Dear said the camera didn't work.

I was able to see, via the Evidence.com audit trail, that people had in fact deleted and/or altered lapel camera video.
Chavez's affidavit

The brands involved

Albuquerque police switched from Scorpion-brand body cameras to Taser International cameras. That came with a five-year subscription to Evidence.com, Taser's cloud-based storage system. Chavez said the system let officers make videos blurry.

The police department's take

Chavez said he reported to his supervisor, former deputy city attorney Kathy Levy, that this was going on. He said she told him she was "handling the situation." However, Levy denies the conversation ever took place, New Mexico In Depth reports.

Background on Chavez

Chavez was fired after a 2015 investigation into unprofessional conduct in his department. He later filed a whistleblower lawsuit, saying he was fired for questioning orders to deny public records requests, NM In Depth reports. The city has denied his claims, and the case is still pending. 

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