Warning: Contains graphic language
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque joins the nationwide outcry over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. During a press conference on Friday, the Albuquerque Police Department provided an update of the protests that took place Thursday night and what transpired. People were seen lining the streets near Central and Wyoming on Thursday night chanting, holding signs, many saying they’re just desperate for racial equality and they want to make sure their voices are heard.
Protesters say they are frustrated after another African American was killed at the hands of a white police officer. After Floyd’s death earlier this week, they say they can’t wrap their head around how this keeps happening and they are tired of seeing these senseless deaths. Protesters also say they worry it could happen here.
“People say black lives matter, people say blue lives matter. Yes you’re right, blue lives do matter, white lives matter, Asian lives matter, Native lives matter but in this point in time right now, black people’s lives are getting treated worse than animals and it’s time for it to stop,” said protester Damien Johnson.
The Albuquerque Police Department was in the area of Central and Mesilla monitoring the protest. They report several shots were fired from a vehicle in the area of Wisconsin and Central and that four people were taken into custody.
The Albuquerque Police Department held a press conference on Friday, to highlight what took place during the demonstrations. APD Police Chief Mike Geier stated that the protest started off peaceful with around 400 people gathering. Police report they were able to shut down Central from Wyoming to Louisiana so that residents could gather and have their voices heard.
Deputy Chief Harold Medina thanked the initial group of individuals who participated in the peaceful demonstration. “I want to start by first thanking the first group of individuals that went out. This group of individuals went out and they peacefully demonstrated and they were a good example of what it means to be an American and exercise your first amendment right,” said Medina.
A second group of individuals were in the area of Wyoming and Central around 9:30 p.m. and were causing a disturbance. Geier stated that a female sergeant was approached by individuals and her vehicle was damaged. “One of our female officers, a Sergeant, was driving in the area. A group surrounded her car, attacked the car. Actually broke the windows and caused some damage to the car,” said Geier.
Several individuals were also seen on camera approaching vehicles and were attempting to drag civilians out of their cars and tried to damage their vehicles. Medina stated that one vehicle in particular was driving around firing shots.
While it is unclear how many shots were fired by that specific vehicle, Medina says that the department used its new shot spotter technology to determine that there were about 33 total registered reports of shots fired in the area. Police say that the suspect vehicle drove to the area of Mesilla and Central where police attempted to initiate a traffic stop to take individuals into custody.
One suspect fled the scene on foot but eventually returned and four people in total were taken into custody. While officers were trying to process the scene, a group of people started to cause problems for the officers. One individual allegedly took a baseball bat to several police vehicles, breaking the windows. “A group of individuals from the Wyoming area responded to where the officers were conducting the traffic stop, surrounded our officers, and began to commit criminal damage to some of our police vehicles,” said Medina.
At that time, two Emergency Response Teams were called to the area to secure the scene and an armored vehicle was sent in to extract the individuals who were taken into custody. Medina states to prevent further escalation, police decided to leave the suspect vehicle at the scene.
At this time, Medina explains the ERT teams were being confronted by the crowd and as the teams were told to fall back, the crowd would advance. The department used a helicopter spotlight to distract the crowd and buses were able to pick up officers.
Medina states the crowd did attempt to follow the officers who were trying to exit the scene and gas was used to create distance between the officers and the crowd so that the officers were able to board the bus and leave the scene. The crowd dispersed shortly after. The four individuals who were arrested have since been released pending further investigation.
Chief Geier made the following statement on behalf of the Albuquerque Police Department:
The death of Mr. Floyd is deeply disturbing and should be of concern to everybody in our country. On behalf of our department and the city of Albuquerque, I would like to offer our sympathies and condolences to the Floyd family. Those officers’ actions are inconsistent with the training and protocols of our department. APD has worked tirelessly to build trust between law enforcement and the community we are sworn to protect. What occurred in Minneapolis is an unfortunate reminder of how quickly a death can undermine interest. The law enforcement profession must do better and hold ourselves to a higher standard. Our officers are trained to treat all individuals with dignity and respect. This is the essence of the principles of procedural justice. Like APD, most agencies today are taught to teach their officers to de-escalate critical situations and avoid the use of force if possible. We will not tolerate these actions and denounce this type of police brutality. The senseless misconduct demonstrated in this unfortunate incident should not define other police departments across the nation. APD denounces the behavior of the Minneapolis officers and we will continue to build the trust we’ve established in the community we proudly serve. “APD Police Chief Mike Geier
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