ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether Albuquerque police lapel camera videos have been altered or deleted, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
U.S. Attorney spokeswoman Elizabeth Martinez confirmed in an email that Justice Department is looking into allegations of doctored police videos. Confirmation of the investigation came is the city of Albuquerque is making federal court-ordered reforms for its police department.
Several requests were made for a criminal investigation but Martinez declined further comment.
The city’s police oversight board had called for either the FBI or New Mexico State Police to investigate the allegations.
The concern stems from comments by former police records custodian Reynaldo Chavez, who said in a nine-page sworn affidavit that the department trained certain units and command staff to edit videos of interactions with civilians beginning in 2013.
Chavez, who was fired in 2015, said videos were altered after two fatal shootings by police. His affidavit was filed as part of a lawsuit over one of those shootings.
Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry’s administration said in late November that the city would have an independent investigator review the allegation.
City Councilor Pat Davis previously also called for an investigation.
Following a string of shootings, the U.S. Justice Department in 2014 released findings from a more than yearlong investigation into Albuquerque police that faulted officers for using unreasonable force with mentally ill people and others who could not comply with officers’ commands.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Monday that as the chair of the state’s Law Enforcement Academy Board, he has appointed a subcommittee to review and audit the policies of more than 190 of the state’s police departments, sheriff’s offices, and state law enforcement agencies.