APD Forward Condemns Officer Commendation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 3, 2014

CONTACT: Micah McCoy, (972) 740-6675 or mmccoy@aclu-nm.org

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, the APD Forward coalition condemned the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD) decision to give APD officer Sean Wallace an award for outstanding service. Wallace, who has shot three unarmed men, killing two, has cost taxpayers more than 1 million dollars in wrongful death lawsuits. According to the APD, this award is“…presented to an officer who intelligently performs his/her duty in an outstanding manner to include performance during a critical incident…”

“There are plenty of officers in the Albuquerque Police Department who are highly deserving of commendation for their excellent service to our community,” said APD Forward spokesperson Nancy Koenigsberg, Legal Director for Disability Rights New Mexico. “However, it is hard to justify bestowing such an award on an officer who has shot three unarmed men, killing two. In addition to the unconscionable loss of human life, he has cost taxpayers more than 1 million dollars in wrongful death lawsuits.”

In 2011, Officer Wallace shot Alan Gomez, 22, in the back, killing him as he walked unarmed into a house. The Department of Justice specifically cited this incident in their letter of findings, holding it up as an example of an irresponsible use of force during a SWAT team deployment.

“The Department of Justice did not single out this officer’s behavior as an example of how police should perform during a critical incident,” said APD Forward Spokesperson Adriann Barboa, Field Director for Strong Families New Mexico. “On the contrary, their letter of findings pointed out this officer’s actions as symptomatic of a poorly managed, militarized, and overly aggressive SWAT program in Albuquerque. The last thing the department should be doing right now is giving an already distrustful public the impression that they endorse the very type of behavior that the Department of Justice so thoroughly condemned.”

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APD Forward is a community-based campaign working to help make the Albuquerque Police Department the responsible, professional, and community-friendly police department our city deserves.


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