ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For the first time, we’re hearing from the wife of Mario Verbeck, one of the four officers injured in a robbery-turned-shooting in August. She held a press conference Monday morning, calling the shooting a nightmare while blaming city leaders.

Tryna Verbeck was emotional and angry, saying she’s holding APD Police Chief Harold Medina and Mayor Tim Keller accountable for Albuquerque’s crime problem. “I am here to let people know that I am now your worst nightmare. You will not use my husband or the other officers as your political backdrop,” Tryna Verbeck stated.

She took to the podium outside city hall to address the department’s short-staffing issues and is urging elected leaders to take action to address the crime plaguing Albuquerque and the state.

It was on August 19 police say Officer Verbeck and another officer responded to a robbery and found the suspects near the Dutch Bros off Mountain and Juan Tabo. Shots rang out and Verbeck was left in critical condition after being hit in the base of the neck, above his bulletproof vest.

A total of four officers responded to the scene. Two other officers were also shot, but are now out of the hospital. The fourth officer was injured by glass in the eye.

It was after the shooting that Chief Medina had strong words about the crime in the city. “As a community, we have to draw a line in the sand. We can’t think we can assist every single individual there are some individuals who quite frankly should stay in jail and we can’t be afraid to say that,” Medina said on Aug. 19.

The Fraternal Order of Police says Verbeck is doing better. He was released from the hospital on Thursday, two weeks after the shooting.

Chief Medina released the following statement in response to the press conference:

There is no doubt that morale among officers was impacted by several issues and events over the past year-and-a-half – from the anti-police protests in 2020, to the challenges of the pandemic and the struggles resulting from mandates by the DOJ settlement. As a result, we have lost officers to retirement or decisions to leave the profession. Those losses compounded the problem of not being fully staffed, even though we have hired hundreds of new officers.

I expressed many of those concerns to the DOJ and the monitors. The pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction where officers do not feel supported, or that they can do their jobs effectively and safely in all situations. At the same time, we can’t simply move every officer to patrol the streets, as some have suggested. I don’t have the authority to defy a court order. But we have to be honest about the reality we face. My responsibility is to the people of Albuquerque who want us to fight crime while protecting the rights of all individuals.

Mayor Keller has always supported APD and increased our funding every year of his administration to give us the tools and reinforcements we need. Together with APD leadership, we are supporting officers during candid discussions with the whole criminal justice system through MCI, as well as the DOJ and monitors. We have been vocal about the need to address gaps in the entire criminal justice system so our officers are not arresting the same criminals over and over. That revolving door is contributing to violent crime, leads to more use of force by our officers, and ultimately puts the entire community at risk. It is unacceptable, and we are making changes to get on the right path.

It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that a lawyer who sues APD for a living is trying to divide APD during a tragedy. However, we’re not going to politicize the criminal acts that hurt our officers, or criticize anyone for their political choices. Our focus is on the well-being of Officer Verbeck and everyone who was impacted by the shooting last month. The entire APD family is here to support them.”

Police Chief Harold Medina

Mayor Tim Keller added the following:

Mrs. Verbeck is understandably concerned about her husband and the safety of all officers who risk their lives to keep us safe. My heart goes out to all of the families affected by the shooting on Juan Tabo, as well as all of our first responders and what they go through. We are listening to those concerns.

APD has been under intense pressure to change as a result of the DOJ settlement agreement, the time pressures from ever-changing court rules, and the shortage of officers that persists despite all of our hiring. Officers feel that pressure every day. We started the Metro Crime Initiative to pull everyone together to fix these system-wide problems. We have also expressed our concerns to the DOJ, the court monitors and the federal delegation because we can’t continue to improve if officers do not feel supported. And, contrary to the misinformation out there, we have never defunded the police. In fact, we have increased funding to APD each year because we know that our community is safer and officers can make better choices with good technology and adequate staffing.

We need more of a commitment throughout the criminal justice system to fight crime and keep the community safe. We can’t only rely on APD alone to turn the tide. Everyone needs to step up.”

Mayor Tim Keller