False Arrests by APD

False Arrests by APD

His APD interviewer fed him information about the crime, which he then repeated in his confession.

Evidence ignored, confessions coerced

BY SARA MACNEIL

The Albuquerque Police Department has a history of falsely accusing people.

Robert Gonzales, a 20-year-old with mental retardation, spent three years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. In his case, APD allegedly valued a coerced confession over DNA evidence in the murder of 11-year-old Victoria Sandoval.

APD arrested Gonzales without probable cause in 2005. Due to Gonzales’ low IQ, he waived his Miranda right against self-incrimination without fully understanding what that waiver meant. He ended up giving a false confession to the murder. His APD interviewer fed him information about the crime, which he then repeated in his confession.

Gonzales’ attorney, Brad Hall, claims that APD knew Gonzales didn’t commit the crime early on. Lab tests a month after the girl’s murder found another individual’s DNA at the crime scene. Israel Diaz was later charged and the case against Gonzales was dismissed.

Bernalillo County was sued for $30,000 for Gonzales mistreatment in jail where he was targeted because of his label as a child molester. During his incarceration, Gonzales attempted suicide. Settlement money is being dispersed to Gonzales in structured payments overseen by a guardian.

Michael Lee, a 21-year-old magazine salesman, was imprisoned for 15 months for a murder he didn’t commit. Lee filed a lawsuit in 2009 against detectives who allegedly secured a coerced false confession from Lee’s co-worker, Travis Rowley.

Lee was released only after DNA evidence confirmed the confession of another man, Clifton Bloomfield, in the 2007 murders of Tak and Pung Yi. His $950,000 wrongful imprisonment settlement with the City of Albuquerque included lost income and his disqualification from future employment because the dismissed murder charge shows up on background checks. Lee got a tattoo on his back while he was in jail that said, “Not guilty.”

Sara MacNeil is a journalism intern at ABQ Free Press Weekly.

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Sara MacNeil is an editorial intern at ABQ Free Press Weekly.

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  • Dan
    December 29, 2016, 4:17 pm

    Now, the city is paid $1.3 million to Robert Gonzales, for what his attorney Brad Hall alleged in a lawsuit was malicious prosecution after an arrest without probable cause. Bernalillo County, sued over Gonzales’ treatment in jail, is paying $30,000 and the state paid $45,000 for the District Attorney’s Office, which Hall alleged violated national standards of care.

    Every level of the criminal justice system in Bernalillo County failed this innocent man. The cops, the jail and the person who is supposed to be a check and balance, the Bernalillo County District Attorney, they all failed

    REPLY
  • Anonymous
    December 29, 2016, 8:14 pm

    And don’t forget to connect the dots on the murders of Jaydon Chavez-Silver and Arturo Villa with Esias Madrid.

    Due to APD bumbling, Madrid could get any with both of them.

    – Was Man Framed by APD? – http://www.freeabq.com/2016/12/19/was-youth-framed-by-apd/
    – Attorneys seek to bar gun from ‘beer pong’ trial – https://www.abqjournal.com/916566/attorneys-seek-to-bar-gun-from-beer-pong-trial.html

    REPLY
  • F. Chris Garcia
    January 13, 2017, 1:55 pm

    "A history of falsely accusing people" for sure. I was falsely accused of serious crimes such as racketeering by APD even though they had to know this was completely inaccurate. APD charged me with 100 charges and counts! The DA’s investigation led to the prosecution trying to bring forward one count of one charge–and even that was dismissed by the courts.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.