Who was the shooter? Police say they know. Does he have law enforcement connections? Is he an informant? An important person’s son?
BY DAN KLEIN
Munah Green has what should be a simple request of the Albuquerque Police Department. The mother of the slain 17-year-old Jaquise Lewis, the Black kid who was shot twice in the back at a city skate park in March, just wants the police to treat her like a human being.
Green also wants answers from the cops and everyone else. She wants to know why police keep insisting that the man who shot her son did so in self-defense. She wants to know why they haven’t arrested the man who killed Jaquise, who was shot while he was walking away with his back to the shooter.
She wants to know why the cops appear to be protecting the killer and why they’ve portrayed her son as a monster. Green wants to know why African-American organizations such as the NAACP and Black Lives Matter haven’t taken up Jacquise’s cause. She wants the answers for herself, for Jaquise and for his 6-year-old brother and 8-year-old sister. Especially the sister, who cries every day, draws pictures of Jaquise and asks, “When is he coming back?”
But nine months after Jaquise was killed, Green has been given no answers or information from APD about the case that has raised so many questions and generated so few answers. The only scraps of detail that she has, she has had to fight for, and fight pretty much on her own.
“The [APD] treat us like we are not human beings,” Green says as she cries when talking about her son’s case. “These are supposed to be the people who help us out, but it’s the opposite. From day one, APD treated my son like he was the predator, that he started it. They portray my son as a monster. It really shocks me. Jaquise was a 17-year-old child. He was a son, brother, grandson.
It shocks me how they treated me and my family and how they have treated my son. It hurts.”
Many have now seen the video of the fight that preceded the shooting and the shooting itself in which approximately 30 shots were fired and seven people, including Lewis, were hit.
APD has its interpretation of what the video shows, and Green has hers. She says it shows Jaquise being shot in the back as he walked away from a crowd. APD says it shows Jaquise firing a gun and walking toward another group of skateboarders. Whatever the truth, we would not have seen the video but for Green’s tenacity and willingness to do battle with the police department.
In June, Green and her attorney, Ahmad Assed, went to APD headquarters and refused to leave until they were shown the entire video. APD finally relented, and days later they showed Green the video. It confirmed to her that Jaquise was slain as he walked away.
“I would not have seen that video if I had not gone to APD headquarters and demanded it,” Green said. “As a mother, I demanded it. If I had not demanded it, they would never have shown it. That’s when I realized it was my son being pursued, my son being attacked. As his mother, it was important for me to make sure the public knew the truth.”
APD also never would have shown or released the video if Green and Assed hadn’t filed a lawsuit demanding that APD do so. A judge sided with Green and ordered it released.
APD’s refusal to release the video until ordered to by a judge raises more disturbing questions about its behavior and motives. If the cops have already decided that it was a case of self-defense and have refused to arrest the shooter, why didn’t they release the video? What were they afraid of? Who are they trying to protect?
Who was the shooter? Police say they know. Does he have law enforcement connections? Is he an informant? An important person’s son? Hell, KOB TV aired an interview with the shooter not too long after the incident. Why can’t the cops tell us who he is?
Here are other huge problems with this case: APD says this was a case of self-defense. But that’s not the department’s call to make. The only one who can make the determination that the shooting was self-defense is the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office. But APD still hasn’t given Kari Brandenburg’s office the files on the case.
And then there is the issue of whether Jaquise ever fired a gun that night. I looked at the video and didn’t see Jaquise firing a gun, although there appears to be something in his hand. It’s easy to see because he wore a white glove.
This is important because Green said the autopsy report said there was no gunpowder residue on Jaquise hand or the glove. No residue of gunpowder. If Jaquise had fired a gun, wouldn’t there be residue?
And finally, there’s the issue of race and class. What if the roles were reversed and Jaquise had shot a young White man in the back?
“My son would have been arrested the very first night,” Green says. “He would be in prison.”
Dan Klein, a regular ABQ Free Press contributor, is a retired APD sergeant. He can be contacted via Facebook.