The claim that APD Chief Gorden Eden had nothing to do with APD's lies in the Victoria Martens case offends common sense.
Sometimes you hear things that are so offensive to reality and common sense that they make your brain spin, head ache, eyes roll, ears bleed and make you want to shout, “Say f***ing what?”
Last night was one of those moments, and this morning, my head is still hurting.
During Thursday night’s big meeting of the Police Oversight Board we were told that Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden had nothing to do with the lies that the department’s PIO’s, officer Fred Duran and civilian Celina Espinoza, told to the Albuquerque Journal in regards to the Victoria Martens case. We were told that Duran made the lies up himself and that there was absolutely no collusion by APD’s higher ups to fabricate the lies in order to protect the department’s image.
In short, the two PIOs told Journal reporter Elise Kaplan that APD detectives did respond to a referral the department got from the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department regarding Victoria. The referral said that the boyfriend of Victoria’s mother had tried to kiss the 10-year-old.
Duran told Kaplan that APD detectives visited Victoria’s home and that the girl said nothing had occurred. No one from APD ever went to Victoria’s home or interviewed her. Duran lied and Espinoza repeated the lie.
So let’s go through the timeline in the case as prepared by Paul Skotchdopole, the investigator for the Civilian Police Oversight Agency who investigated the complaint against Espinoza and Duran and ask questions that any halfway normal person would ask.
There was a meeting in Eden’s office in late November or early December 2016 where the sergeant from APD’s Crimes Against Children Unit told both Eden and Duran that none of the unit’s detectives had gone out on the CYFD referral.
In late January, two months after being told that no one from APD ever responded to the referral, Duran told the Journal that APD detectives had indeed interviewed Victoria.
A few days later, Espinoza repeated that lie to the Journal’s reporter.
Shortly after that, the CACU’s sergeant went to Espinoza and told her she gave the wrong information to the paper and that he had told Duran and Eden in November or December that no officer had talked to Victoria.
Then Espinoza went to Eden and told him that she had given the Journal incorrect information. And what did Gordo and Espinoza do? Did they call the Journal and correct the information and retract the lies?
No. They did nothing.
It wasn’t until March 3, when Kaplan called Espinoza again, that Espinoza admitted that the information she and Duran had supplied was wrong.
Skotchdopole said Eden had nothing to do with the lie and that there was no collusion. That means we’re supposed to believe something like this:
When the CACU sergeant told both Duran and Eden in late November or early December that no one from APD ever went out on the CYFD referral, Duran and Eden just shrugged and walked away. Imagine the conversation:
Eden: Sure is interesting stuff, huh? Officer Duran, how’s the family doing?
Duran: Great. And chief, let me say again that I can’t believe how brilliant you are and what a terrific job you’re doing for this department for the great citizens of this great city.
Eden: Aw shucks. Well, maybe we should tell the media that we didn’t respond to CYFD’s referral. It’ll make us look awful and people will be angry, but we’re transparent here. The public has a right to know, and they will know!
Duran: Capital idea!
Eden: Well, officer Duran, good day and keep up the good work.
Duran: Chief Eden, bless you!
I doubt the conversation went that way. But according to Skotchdopole, a conversation like this didn’t take place:
Eden: Shiiiiiit! What the f*** is going on here? If the public finds out about this we’re history. Damn. Officer Duran, how the hell are we gonna cover our asses on this?
Duran: I don’t know, chief. Maybe we could just say we went out there, and because it has to do with a kid there were no reports written because it’s confidential stuff. That’ll cover us on any nonexistent police reports.
Eden: And we could say we went out and that because our detectives are part of a federal task force their work is secret and can’t be released. Look, I want everyone involved in this. Get Huntsman in here! And Gonterman! We quash this thing here and now. And if those (expletive deleted) from the media call about this we stick to our story. It’s none of their f****** business!
Duran: But what about the sergeant? I mean, he said we didn’t go out.
Eden: The sergeant wants to keep his job. He’ll keep his mouth shut. Officer Duran, you want to keep your job, don’t you?
Duran: Yes, sir!
Eden: Get out of here.
That seems like a more likely and believable conversation. I haven’t talked to anyone yet who believes that Duran, a patrol officer first class — I repeat, a patrol officer — made up a lie on his own, a lie that has brought intense criticism on APD and further damaged its already horrible reputation.
Skotchdopole said he didn’t interview Eden during the investigation because the probe was focused only on Espinoza and Duran.
That, to put it mildly, is insane.
So we’re supposed to believe that a patrol officer made up a massive lie on his own and didn’t tell the police chief, the assistant chief or the deputy chiefs about it and get their permission to spread it?
Do you believe that?
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