Public records lawsuit issued one year after Oñate statue protest shooting

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Attorneys for the victim in last summer’s shooting at the Juan de Oñate statue protest in Albuquerque are taking action against the city. They say the City of Albuquerque and Dept. of Public Safety have not provided them with public records about the shooting, that they are legally entitled to.


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The complaint filed Tuesday says the local and state entities have failed to be transparent when it comes to basic details around the shooting, and Scott Williams’ attorneys say they want every detail possible. Williams was critically injured in the June 2020 shooting and his counsel says he’s still recovering. “State and local entities don’t hold true to their promise of transparency and accountability,” said Laura Schauer Ives, one of Williams’ attorneys. “We have to sue to get, what are clearly, public records.”

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, says while victim Scott Williams made the appropriate request through the Inspection of Public Records Act — or IPRA — through the City of Albuquerque and Dept. of Public Safety, many records were never given, omitted, or heavily redacted, yet they were given to other IPRA requesters like news outlets. Schauer Ives says they want to know why APD — who was on standby feet away at the Albuquerque Museum and nearby surroundings — didn’t intervene sooner.

They also want to know if some officers had connections with the New Mexico Civil Guard armed militia that was on site. “We want every bit of information we can learn about, again, why it is the Albuquerque Police Department didn’t intervene and didn’t protect citizens who were exercising their first amendment rights,” said Schauer Ives. “It’s a very odd thing to have that many 911 calls come in, that many cries for assistance and to have them sit on their hands, and we know they were right there. They were just staged behind the building. We know they were inside the museum. We know they were well aware there was danger at this protest. We know they were well aware there were armed militia members, and yet they did nothing.”

Schauer Ives says during the protest, Steven Ray Baca shot Williams multiple times. However, police intervention didn’t come until after. “Mr. Baca threw people down in the crowd, continued to go into the crowd repeatedly and agitate,” said Schauer Ives. “My client, Scott Williams, tried to knock a gun out of Mr. Baca’s hand and Mr. Baca shot him repeatedly in the back. That’s not self-defense.”

As Baca’s case continues in court, attorneys say their next step is rightfully getting the basic details from that day before they move forward. Until then, Schauer Ives says they’ve notified the city of a potential lawsuit related to APD’s inaction and haven’t ruled out the possibility of a suit involving Baca.

“Before I file a lawsuit against an individual or an entity, I want all the information I can possibly have to assess what the allegations would be, what the claims would be. The City of Albuquerque, we are well past a year after the shooting and the City of Albuquerque still has not fulfilled what is a promise of open government, open records in New Mexico,” said Schauer Ives. “We are continuing to review our options going forward.”

The lawsuit says they could also seek money from CABQ and DPS, saying this is within the IPRA provision for statutory damages and they could be awarded up to $100 per day until a written denial is issued. Steven Baca pleaded not guilty to shooting Williams. No trial date has been set yet in the case.

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