About My Case
I hope you do your homework but for the sake of an introduction this is the official story…
Deputy [redacted] was shot and killed when he and his brother, a New Mexico State Patrolman, assisted a restaurant owner in breaking up a fight between two women. Deputy [redacted] and Patrolman [redacted] identified themselves as officers to the restaurant owner when the fight broke out. After escorting the two female suspects outside, an unknown gunman opened fire on both officers. Deputy [redacted] was fatally shot more than seven times. His brother was shot in the hip and suffered non-life threatening injuries. The suspect was found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder.
This narrative is from a national website dedicated to officers who died in the line of duty. Most news sources reported this story about my case.
Here’s what I have to say:
[Click on highlighted text to see reference material]
I killed someone in self defense and take full responsibility. I claim innocence because I was in the commission of no crime and my actions were taken to protect someone. A group of drunk, fight trained, off duty cops attacked my best friend. There was no justification for them to do this. I say they were drunk based on the location, their own admittance, bar tabs, and Blood Alcohol Content reports.
We all feared the worst. The unidentified suspects held our friend down and he was being strangled. His blood covered the white car he was pinned on top of. I was right there trying to help but I couldn’t get around their unidentified accomplice.
Their accomplice threw me to the ground by my neck. He later testified as a star witness for the prosecution. He described this fight but characterized it differently. He tried to put me in a choke hold but I got out. I needed help getting to my friend. My girlfriend saw me struggling. She had a small handgun and passed it to me. First I made their accomplice back up then I got the suspects off of our friend. I helped him up and we retreated.
Two of the suspects pursued us as we backed away (click here to see video). I told them to let us leave and gave them every chance to. One of them threw a Superman dive at me. As I was about to be tackled I shot until I stopped the immediate threat.
It’s difficult to explain how I felt. There wasn’t time for anger or wounded pride. I had just seen a guy attack a parked car. My friend was jumped, held down, and strangled. One of those guys bit into my friend’s back like a crazy person and the same rushed me while I retreated (one witness said “like a raging bull”).
All I can do is speak from my feelings. Coherent thoughts were impossible. What would have happened to my friend had I not stopped the fight? What would have happened to me had he been able to take the gun? All that guy ever said to me was “Do you know who you’re fucking with?” How would you feel?
I saved my life and I saved my friend’s life but I shot two people. They may have identified themselves as police officers, but if so I didn’t hear it. With their actions it wouldn’t have mattered at that point. Per security video footage and witness testimony the gun was only pointed at the person attacking but another with him was shot in the hip accidentally or by ricochet. Either way I’m thankful not to have hurt an innocent person. Good, bad, and embarrassing this led to my charges.
I was not a perfect person before. I was an ex-con drinking at a bar with another ex-con (my friend was still on parole). He and I were practically family but both labeled gang members. Prohibited from association.
After shooting I made things worse and ran. Too often I’ve heard “If you weren’t guilty then why did you run?” Like check…and mate. That question is fair but isn’t the last word. For many years that cowboy wisdom sanitized the preceding events. Specifically a group assault which resulted in great bodily harm and easily should have met the criteria for attempted murder. This recreational police brutality was inflicted on someone committing no crime. Finally, I’d like to add that I ran twice.
I felt like I had done enough for one day. My people seemed relatively safe. I didn’t want to go to jail and I just took flight.
I learned who the victim was on the morning news. He was an off-duty/Good Samaritan who’d been tragically murdered. Police spokespersons said things like “suspect is considered armed and extremely dangerous and…we just don’t know how this is going to end.” Those news clips are some scary shit if you’d been in my shoes. I fled the state and am lucky to stand by that mistake.
Two days later they hunted me down through an anonymous tip. Meanwhile, the State abused their power throughout the investigation. Both sides of the story were readily available to detectives. Officer testimony and contradictory physical evidence. They chose their side and my due process paid the price for a hero’s legacy.
There were two groups drinking at that bar. One included around fifteen off-duty officers. The other was me, my friend, our dates, and another homegirl. My friend fought with some of the cops and was ejected by the bar’s owner and a bouncer.
The prosecution had more witnesses than the defense. However, there were more defense witnesses to the actual shooting or events immediately beforehand (see, for example, the video below). The bar’s owner (click here to watch an interview with him) was a defense witness. The State countered by charging both my friend and my girlfriend with first degree murder. Though there was no case for that.
The security video was quickly confiscated by police. My mom worked for the city at the time. She heard an upsetting rumor that the tape was being edited to harm my case. She heard this because detectives worked closely with the IT guy from her department.
A public defender was assigned to my case. We didn’t get along because he wouldn’t look into any of my claims. He also wouldn’t look into the State’s evidence against me. My mom asked him to investigate the video specifically. He wouldn’t go watch it, ensure its integrity, or verify its authenticity.
Finally he eased my concerns. He sent copies of vouchers from the public defender’s department allocating thousands of dollars for investigatory work to be done on my behalf. I shut up and waited. No investigator was ever hired or work done on my case. It sure looks as if he kept the money though. His willful ignorance in my case was a pattern.
I tried to fire my lawyer every way I could think of. I wrote to the presiding judge and told him this attorney did not have my confidence. How I felt he was not looking out for me. To explain the video and investigation was difficult because copies of letters to the judge also go straight to the prosecution. Since I really didn’t have counsel I needed to keep my letter vague. The judge wouldn’t let me fire my lawyer because I hadn’t explained myself well enough. (See correspondence).
My entire trial was about distracting the jury with prejudicial matters. The case was built that way. One of the officers claimed that the fight started because I was walking around the bar flashing my gun and yelling East Side. My friend and I were gangbangers in our younger days and that was exploited by the prosecution.
Me and my homie were brothers. We were out to celebrate his engagement – when he asked me to be his best man. Had he been killed I would have had to look his mom in the eyes and tell her what happened. What I did about it. People said things like “fellow gang member” to minimize our humanity.
The State presented their video evidence in court with footage removed (click here to watch interview with video expert). Immediately I noticed the missing scenes. During pretrial motions the State admitted to altering the tape. However they said those measures had only been taken to “slow down” or “clear up” the footage. (Click here to watch interview). The tape passed through at least three agents in two departments before ending up with the lead detective who testified. To his credit he said he did in fact do a good job.
My friend’s blood covered the scene. Per federal law the State had a duty to preserve this exculpatory evidence. He sustained serious bite wounds on his back in the attack. Much of the State’s case rested on officer testimony that my friend had merely been “subdued in a proper restraint”. The implication being that I had no need to defend his life. The bite wound and blood evidence countered their claim. So the State either refused to investigate that evidence or destroyed it.
The unfairness I experienced wasn’t all illegal. Although there were some tough judges and prosecutors assigned to my case they haven’t been out to get me. They didn’t like me, respect me, or protect my rights but I doubt it was especially personal. Nevertheless, they kept their thumbs on the scales a little bit. These are examples of legal injustice:
One defense witness with an excellent memory was honest to a fault. She was the only witness who’s entire testimony was confirmed by physical evidence. The prosecution cast doubt on her credibility by bringing up her old, irrelevant drug trafficking conviction . The judge allowed and encouraged this line of questioning. The jury was prejudiced enough to disregard her entire testimony.
During his career, the victim had been fired a lot. He also tended to be “transferred” out of several police departments. This was due to a history of domestic violence. One especially bad incident made his wife file restraining orders. This happened late into her pregnancy after her husband’s most recent transfer.
The prosecution needed the Decedent’s widow on the stand. She hadn’t seen the shooting and had no information of offer except for the enormous impact a widow has on a jury. The prosecution wanted her testimony without the domestic violence stuff. There was a chamber’s conference about the matter.
Domestic violence wasn’t a big deal to the prosecution. There hadn’t even been proof the victim was drunk while he beat his pregnant wife. His widow downplayed the severity and confessed that most of the fights had actually been her fault for being emotional. The judge ruled the domestic violence did not constitute a propensity for actual violence. Further he found the jury should not hear about prior acts as they were more “prejudicial than probative”.
I fell victim to revenge prosecution. The entire proceedings just covered for the victims. Their slight of hand worked. I was found guilty of first degree murder with malice aforethought. Premeditated. I got life plus thirteen years.
Criminal appeals are generally met with assumptions. These assumptions include the following: Trials are fair, prosecutors are honest, and defense attorneys are competent. Appeals become complicated because the Defendant is at a point where the facts and evidence have been decided. Judges get a broad discretion on what facts to acknowledge and questions to hear.
My case hadn’t had an independent investigation. It eventually did but not until well into my first appeal. That investigation pursued several issues including the security video footage shown in trial. Aspects of that were: the condition of the actual tape shown and the original, the bar owner’s security system, and the footage depicted.
The footage appeared to have been edited. Scenes did appear to be missing. No one can conclusively state the condition of that footage because the original video disappeared from the evidence locker. There are two (totally different) chain of custody forms which both claim the original video is now in the city police evidence locker. Both forms are attached to one piece of evidence and although they tell two stories, both are demonstrably false.
The original video was confiscated from the bar soon after the incident. It was taken by an unnamed, unidentified State police officer. The original tape was from a multiplexing security system. That system was similar to but incompatible with VHS and there is no multiplexing security tape. The VHS wouldn’t even work on the owner’s system. A city police detective put a counterfeit tape into the evidence locker. In good faith the State can’t possibly explain this and my appeals judge ruled they will not have to.
For criminal appeals to even be heard they must meet a fairly impossible standard. Judges basically interpret the law to suit their taste. On top of that I’m a convicted killer claiming “I didn’t get a fair trial!”, “The tapes were tampered with!”, “The system is rigged!”, etc. People wonder why I stick to my guns (as it were).
It’s not lost on me that I killed a person. I’m not writing this to attack his character. I’ve learned he was a father and I am sure he was better than his worst day. It’s for that reason I’m not saying his name. I’m attacking an unjust conviction that’s a product of (and supported by) police brutality and official misconduct. I’m not stretching the truth at all. And what if I had died that night? What do you think would’ve been said about me?
Stolen valor is a serious thing. I’m not proud someone died by my hand but I won’t regret survival. This cover up cost me over six thousand, one hundred and eighty seven days. I will keep struggling until the system gets strong enough to be fair. Thank you for hearing me.