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Whistleblower: I was Victim of Rampage

Whistleblower: I was Victim of Rampage

'Plaintiff ... inherited an office which was poorly run' — Lawsuit

Ex-APD Overseer Robin Hammer Says She was Scapegoated

Top City Hall Officials Used Innuendo to Ruin Her Career, Hammer says

Robin Hammer, former ABQ Independent Review OfficerThe former head of Albuquerque’s defunct Police Oversight Commission has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the city,  members of the new Civilian Police Oversight Agency and, in all, more than two dozen named and unnamed city officials.

The suit alleges she was denied the job of heading the new agency because she brought allegations of “brazen violations” of city and state law to the attention of city officials.

Robin Hammer, who was the Independent Review Officer under the city’s old police oversight system, also claimed in her lawsuit that she didn’t get appointed as the city’s Inspector General because she brought allegations of wrongdoing to city officials.

Hammer says city officials went on a “rampage” to destroy her City Hall career.

“The defendants’ retaliatory rampage against Plaintiff Hammer, by, among other things, attacking her person and character, through false representation, rumor and innuendo, and issued a purported and illegal Letter of Reprimand against her, resulted in her de facto termination, and in her being denied a fair and reasonable opportunity to be considered for the position of Director of the Agency,” the 168-page lawsuit says.

Charges of Retaliation

“In further retaliation, the Defendants then intentionally and directly interfered with Plaintiff Hammer’s subsequent application to the city’s Inspector General, and effectively torpedoed her application,” the lawsuit, which was filed in state District Court on April 27, continues.

The lawsuit alleges that POC members and city officials ignored warnings from Hammer that they were violating the state’s open meetings and other city and state laws. The suit also said that Hammer, who became the IRO in September 2012, had inherited a mess.

“Plaintiff Hammer inherited an office which was poorly run, with a significant backlog of work,” the lawsuit said. “The office staff had become unmanageable; setting their own hours, level of output, and were, and have been, essentially unsupervised.”

30 Officials Listed as Defendants

The lawsuit included more than 30 named and unnamed defendants, including City Attorney Jessica Hernandez, current Police Oversight Board Chair Joanne Fine, and Ed Harness, executive director of the CPOA.

The Police Oversight Commission was junked by city councilors in 2014 after complaints that it had become ineffective in reviewing citizen complaints against police officers and that most of its members had resigned.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s 2014 report which found that APD officers had engaged in a pattern of using excessive force, also found that Hammer’s office wasn’t doing a good job at overseeing the police department.

Humiliation, Embarrassment Alleged

“From our review it appears that the Review Officer is more closely aligned with the department than with the community that the Review Officer serves,” the DOJ’s report said. “We are left with the conclusion that the current Review Officer and her predecessor have simply been too forgiving of the department’s use of deadly force.”

Councilors replaced the POC with the CPOA and the Police Oversight Board. Hammer served as interim director of the CPOA until Harness was hired for the job in October 2015.

Hammer applied to be the city’s Inspector General, but the City Council gave the job to David Harper in April of 2016.

Hammer’s lawsuit seeks damages lost wages, benefits, career opportunities and “humiliation and embarrassment.”

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