ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A man police have arrested time and time again is now suing the City of Albuquerque and its police officers for what they did during one of those arrests.
A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of accused car thief, Majestic Howard, claims APD used unreasonable force and then did a bad job of investigating and disciplining its officers afterward.
Video from Albuquerque Police shows Howard hop in a bait car on Oct. 30, 2015.
This followed a run-in with Howard on Sept. 14, 2015 when a man shot Howard in the head because he believed Howard was trying to steal his car.
The injury led to a surgery to remove part of his skull, but clearly he made it out of the hospital because APD was chasing him down soon after.
A lawsuit, which was moved into federal court on Monday, states that Howard stopped running and sat down with his hands up while officers moved in to put him in handcuffs.
Then, it states Officer Jonathan Franco kneed Howard in the head and didn’t mention the use of force in his police report.
“In the reports, they omitted the fact that they administered blows to Mr. Howard’s head, knowing that he had a head injury and that they could in fact kill him,” said Howard’s Attorney Louren Oliveros.
Police said it wasn’t until later that officers recognized Howard.Franco got a 7-day suspension, but not until a year later after the case made headlines.
“The discipline was not enough. It wasn’t swift,” Oliveros said.
Howard’s attorney said his criminal history is a separate matter, that it’s still important to send a message to APD about violating constitutional rights.
“There’s a criminal justice system and there’s the Civil Rights Act, and when officers go unchecked, it’s a threat to everybody,” Oliveros said.
KRQE News 13 reached out to Albuquerque Police for comment.
In a statement, Chief Gorden Eden said, “Although the City is still in the process of reviewing this specific lawsuit, we have always communicated to the community and to the Court that APD is fully committed to the reforms set forth in our Agreement.”
Court records show a criminal case was just dismissed last week against Howard because he was found incompetent to stand trial.
That led to his release from jail after he was accused of leading State Police on a wild chase last year.
Court records also show Howard already has warrants for his arrest in multiple additional criminal cases.