Chief: Sus­pend ex-spokesman for eight hours

Of­fi­cer pro­vided in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion on Martens case

Albuquerque Journal - - METRO & NM - COPY­RIGHT © 2017 AL­BU­QUERQUE JOUR­NAL BY RYAN BOETEL JOUR­NAL STAFF WRITER

The Al­bu­querque po­lice chief has con­cluded that a for­mer spokesman should be sus­pended eight hours for pro­vid­ing the Jour­nal with in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion about po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing an al­leged as­sault against a young girl who was later bru­tally killed.

But Chief Gor­den Eden dis­agreed with the Po­lice Over­sight Board, which said the of­fi­cer “did lie” to the Jour­nal about the Vic­to­ria Martens case and should be sus­pended 80 hours.

Vic­to­ria, 10, was raped and killed in her home in west Al­bu­querque in Au­gust 2016. Three adults, in­clud­ing her mother, have been charged in her death.

Ed Har­ness, the di­rec­tor of the Civil­ian Po­lice Over­sight Agency, an­nounced the chief’s find­ings at a Po­lice Over­sight Board meet­ing Thurs­day night.

Be­cause Eden dis­agreed with the civil­ian over­sight group, the case will be re­viewed by an in­de­pen­dent mon­i­tor over­see­ing a years-long po­lice re­form ef­fort, he said.

“Our find­ings were that (the of­fi­cer) and the PIO pur­pose­fully lied with the in­for­ma­tion they shared with the Jour­nal,” Po­lice Over­sight Board Chair­woman Joanne Fine said dur­ing the meet­ing.

City rules pro­hibit civil­ian over­sight groups from iden­ti­fy­ing the in­volved of­fi­cers in cases they pub­licly dis­cuss. But the Jour­nal has iden­ti­fied him as Fred Du­ran, a for­mer po­lice pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer.

The chief’s ex­pla­na­tion for only sus­pend-

ing Du­ran eight hours, as de­scribed by Har­ness at Thurs­day’s board meet­ing, was that Du­ran was ill-pre­pared for an in­ter­view with the Jour­nal and didn’t per­form his du­ties as ex­pected.

But Eden didn’t find that a pre­pon­der­ance of the ev­i­dence showed that Du­ran had in­ten­tion­ally lied.

“Giv­ing in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion and ly­ing are two en­tirely dif­fer­ent mat­ters,” Eden said in po­lice doc­u­ments read aloud by Har­ness. “Ly­ing re­quires in­tent. … I do not be­lieve this fac­tual al­le­ga­tion can be sus­tained.”

The chief did find that Du­ran had a duty to make sure the in­for­ma­tion he re­layed to the Jour­nal was cor­rect.

“He failed to suc­cess­fully per­form his du­ties as” pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer, Eden said.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the CPOA found that Du­ran was in a meet­ing with other po­lice of­fi­cials in De­cem­ber 2016 and was told that prior to Vic­to­ria’s death, po­lice re­ceived a com­plaint that a man had tried to kiss Vic­to­ria and po­lice never in­ves­ti­gated.

The next month Du­ran told the Jour­nal that po­lice had in­ves­ti­gated the case, but found no crime had been com­mit­ted. The Jour­nal re­ported that in­for­ma­tion.

In March, upon re­ceiv­ing ad­di­tional ques­tions from the Jour­nal, Du­ran and po­lice of­fi­cials said there was a mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion and told the Jour­nal that po­lice had not in­ves­ti­gated the com­plaint. The Jour­nal then re­ported the cor­rect in­for­ma­tion.

That story prompted a com­plaint to the CPOA about Du­ran, which led to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the sus­pen­sion.

The chief’s de­ci­sion also was based on the fact that many of the con­ver­sa­tions Du­ran had about Vic­to­ria be­fore his in­ter­view with the Jour­nal weren’t recorded, so there was no ev­i­dence he lied, Har­ness said.

It isn’t clear if Du­ran has served the sus­pen­sion or if he will ap­peal.

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