ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Recent requests for video of Albuquerque Police Department arrests appears to show a lack of consistency and a disdain for both the law and the media.
KRQE News 13 filed a lawsuit last week after the department refused to release officer lapel-camera video of two arrests on May 31. KRQE spent nearly a month trying to obtain the video.
APD Chief Ray Schultz released that video – which showed Officers Shad Solís and Connor Rice enter a residence without a search warrant, repeatedly use a stun gun on one man inside and beat another man – on Thursday. But getting the department to release arrest video isn't always a battle.
For example, APD handed out the video of an Aug. 6 officer-involved shooting at Coors Boulevard and Interstate 40 just one day after it occurred. The suspect in that incident, who survived, pulled a gun on the officer, police have said.
So, is APD reluctant to release video that makes them look bad?
Schultz said the officer-involved shooting video was released quickly because of the amount of attention that's been paid to the 25 men APD officers have shot since 2010. Seventeen of those shootings were fatal.
"It was video we felt was important to share with the community – exactly what happened because of all the scrutiny and review of officer-involved shootings," Schultz said Thursday.
The video released Thursday shows Solís kick in the door of a private residence and admit he didn't have a search warrant. As soon as he enters the home, Solís immediately uses his stun gun on a man inside who may have been involved in an earlier drug deal.
The man screams in pain as he is hit with Taser darts a total of four times by Solís and Rice, according to the video.
Then in the backyard of the home, the officers encounter another suspect. The video shows the man lying on the ground on his stomach with his hands behind his back.
"I surrender," the suspect says on the video.
Officer Ronald Surran then steps on the man's head while Rice hits the man's upper body three times. The two officers slap each other high-fives after the suspect is handcuffed, according to the video.
Rice was charged with aggravated battery and battery for the Taser shots and the beating.
On Thursday, Schultz conceded he didn't know about the video of those arrests until News 13 submitted a public records request asking for it. The chief then chastised reporters for filing legal requests for police video.
"If the media receives information that officers might have conducted themselves improperly or illegally to give us a call and let us know and not try to hide behind an open records request just to say, ‘Here's the video. We got you,'" Schultz said.
As it turns out, APD has no specific policy dictating when it will release audio and video footage of incidents and arrests. Schultz said that is determined on a case-by-case basis.
APD continues to investigate the May 30 arrest and others on May 31. Part of that criminal investigation is also looking into who tipped News 13 off to the existence of the video.
Like any other media outlet, News 13's policy – which is protected by law – is never to reveal confidential sources.
Meanwhile, News 13's lawsuit against APD over the release of the May 30 and 31 arrest videos will continue to make its way through the courts.
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