ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - She was a well-known civil rights lawyer who often made police angry. Now, her family claims the department botched the investigation into her death, and didn't treat her home as a possible crime scene.
Mary Han's death last November was ruled a suicide, but her family claims, and police reports show, it wasn't a clear cut investigation.
Mary Han spearheaded some big battles against Albuquerque Police in her 25 years as an attorney. Her family claims that led to police bias when officers swarmed her north valley home to investigate her death.
News 13 has learned the family plans to file a lawsuit claiming police ignored or destroyed evidence at Han's home and acted inappropriately during the investigation.
Han was found dead inside her BMW in her closed garage. News 13 got copies of the police reports from that day.
Han was in the driver's seat with her feet up on the dash. Police said a tumbler with vodka was in the center console, and sleeping pills in the passenger seat.
Both cops, and Han's law partner Paul Kennedy, who found her body, said the house and garage were full of carbon monoxide. But, the first officer on scene made it clear things weren't right.
He noted all of Han's car windows were down, her car was cool to the touch, and the battery was dead. A BMW expert told officers the car would have to be out of gas for it to turn off, but when officers jumped it, it still had half a tank.
Han's sister then alerted police that Han's wallet was out of her purse and her jewelry was missing.
I couldn't get ahold of the attorney for Han's family. City officials refused to go on camera citing the pending lawsuit, but the mayor's office did send this statement.
“On November 18, 2010 the Albuquerque Police Department, along with the Office of the Medical Investigator, conducted an investigation concerning the unattended death of Mary Han, a prominent and high profile local attorney. APD responds to all unattended deaths. Following standard operating procedures, the scene was secured and thoroughly investigated by police personnel, including forensic specialists. The scene was investigated by both police and OMI to determine whether or not any evidence was present to indicate a violent crime had occurred. There was no evidence to indicate foul play was involved. OMI personnel determined the evidence was consistent with a suicide. The OMI found the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning and the manner of death was suicide. Due to the high profile nature of Ms. Han and the fact that all personnel recognized that the confidentiality of Ms. Han’s legal work-product should be protected, many City personnel responded to the scene. Public information personnel and police administrators were present to address questions from the local media. The City Attorney was present to address issues surrounding legal documents, computers and other sensitive legal items present at the scene. The City Attorney worked with Ms. Han’s law partner, Paul Kennedy at the premises after it was released by investigators, to ensure confidentiality of any legal items present.” Robert Kidd, Interim City Attorney
The family's lawyers have asked APD to turn over any text messages, emails, or recordings made by any officers about Mary Han's death. At least one APD officer got in trouble for joking about Han's death on the internet.
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