Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Another Sketchy Police Shooting in Albuquerque

This time, the woman who was shot and killed was the adopted daughter of a Valencia County Magistrate.

"But she was running!" "She pulled a gun!" "She stole a car!" There will be an endless litany of victim blaming.

The only thing we can be sure of is that she was on the run. Whether she had a gun or she stole a car is subject to the word of the police, and in Albuquerque the police are not known for their truthfulness. They're known for their bloodlust. Her death at the hands of police was the third in the last five weeks in Albuquerque. In other words, the killings continue, despite the DoJ report and vows to reform.

Mary Hawkes was her name. She was 19. She was suspected of car theft. Apparently the suspect car was reported stolen at 3:30 in the morning on Monday. It or one like it was spotted in a parking lot at around five am. Shortly afterwards, police gave chase, apparently following the stolen car, or one like it, for some twenty minutes, when the apparent driver, Mary Hawkes, got out near a car wash and attempted to escape on foot.

A police officer followed, backed up by several others who arrived on the scene. Sometime later, several shots were fired. Mary Hawkes was struck and killed. A number of bullets were lodged in buildings nearby her corpse.

The police officer who chased and shot Mary Hawkes dead, Jeremy Dear, claims she pulled a gun on him, and that's why he fired. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen. There were no other named witnesses to the pursuit and shooting of Mary Hawkes, and there is no one who can vouch for the word of the police officer who shot her -- except other police officers. Witnesses who heard the shots say there was only one gun fired, a total of three or possibly four times. Given the time of day, however, before dawn, it's hard to believe -- without corroborating evidence *which has not been produced* -- that what the officer said he saw Mary Hawkes had in her hand was actually a gun, or that it was aimed at him if it was a gun.

After all, they were apparently running on a relatively dark street well before dawn. Other squad cars with lights flashing had arrived nearby. She could have had anything in her hand -- or nothing. With adrenalin pumping and little light to see by, the most mundane objects could appear menacing to an officer in pursuit of a running girl.

That evening, during a candlelight vigil for Mary Hawkes at the site of her death, a man claiming to be her husband or fiancé -- accounts vary -- arrived brandishing weapons, in obvious distress. The weapons, an assault rifle and a pistol, were toys he said, when apparently he was confronted by a police officer nearby. He expressed his deep anguish over the death of his loved one, and said he had nothing more to live for, even called for "suicide by cop." He got into an SUV -- which he said he'd borrowed -- and drove away. Police were detailed to pursue. They used a PIT maneuver to stop the vehicle and spike strips to blow out the tires, but the man, Mario Romero, continued driving on rims until he finally stopped and tried to escape on foot. Apparently, he was bitten by a police dog during his attempted escape. There was a passenger in the SUV, an underage girl, so Romero was charged with child endangerment and kidnapping among other crimes, including car theft, as the vehicle was apparently reported stolen.

Interesting that despite the fact that Romero "brandished guns" -- observed by many witnesses -- during his encounters with police, he was not shot at let alone shot at any time during his pursuit or when showing his weapons, whereas his fiancé was shot dead before dawn because -- said the man who shot her -- she pointed a gun at him.

Perhaps, because she was the adopted daughter of a retired county judge, the truth of the matter will come out in this case, perhaps not. Mary Hawkes was, after all, another "victim of the system" as they say,  and shooting her may have been, if not justified, at the very least, merciful. A form of euthanasia for those who don't quite fit...

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