ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Three years after being acquitted in a high profile murder trial, former Albuquerque Police Department officer Levi Chavez stood before the Law Enforcement Academy board asking for his ability to be a cop in New Mexico back again.
“I still believe that if I wasn’t a law enforcement officer, I never would’ve been prosecuted to begin with,” Chavez said during brief remarks laying out his case. “I do have a lot of personal, professional goals and this law enforcement certification will help with both.”
In 2013, Chavez went on trial for first degree murder, accused of killing his wife Tera in their Los Lunas home in 2007.
Prosecutors claimed he did it to keep her from talking about insurance fraud tied to Chavez’s truck. The defense team argued that Tera had killed herself and ultimately the jury found Chavez not guilty of murder.
Amid that trial, Chavez had surrendered his law enforcement certification.
“At that time I’d just gotten out of a very in depth criminal trial as you might imagine,” Chavez said. “Economically, spiritually, emotionally I couldn’t really deal with this.”
Now in his second year in law school, Chavez says he’s ready to get that certification back. After the meeting, Chavez told KRQE News 13 that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be a cop again or not.
Ultimately, the board decided to take no action on Chavez’s request saying it didn’t have a process in place for reinstating a certification that had been surrendered. A next step for Chavez could be to ask the Law Enforcement Academy itself to give him his license back.
Just being acquitted of murder doesn’t necessarily give Chavez a clear path to reinstatement as his on and off the job conduct, criminal or not, can be considered by the LEA.
Separately, Chavez is still suing the main Valencia County detective who investigated his case in federal court, accusing him of misconduct.
That case could go to trial next year.