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Albuquerque Officials Block Journalists Filming Public Hearing For Former Cop

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Albuquerque, NM- A public personnel meeting for fired Albuquerque police officer Jeremy Dear was scheduled for Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed because hearing officer Patrick Bingham and city deputy attorney Kathy Levy opposed to being filmed on camera by local media.

Dear was fired last December for “insubordination and untruthfulness” as it was revealed that there were multiple occasions where Dear had failed to keep his body camera turned on while on duty. Dear has been under scrutiny for months due to the fact that he shot and killed 19-year-old Mary Hawkes during a foot chase in April 2014 and his assigned body camera failed to document the incident.

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Dear believes he was wrongly terminated and appealed his termination. The former officer was set to explain to the personnel board why he should get his job back when Bingham objected to the presence of video recording and said that audio recording and note-taking were the only acceptable means of documenting the meeting.

“First of all, I don’t want to be depicted. I don’t think it’s anybody’s business what I look like or who I am. I’ve been doing this for a long period of time, there’s plenty of people who are probably upset with what I’ve done in the past. There’s probably people that are happy. I don’t want to be in that kind of position,” Bingham said.

City deputy attorney Kathy Levy said that “it’s been our position that city witnesses do not wish to be depicted on camera. And I do not wish to for the reasons [Bingham] stated.”

Bingham also expressed concern that video would cause inaccurate testimony from witnesses. According to the Albuquerque Journal, all of the witnesses are police officers. Bingham said,

“The problem with videotaping that I have is if witnesses are videotaped there’s a possibility that their testimony might be influenced one way or another.”

Both Dear and his attorney, Tom Grover, supported video recording of the hearing.

“I think other people would probably say it’s pure hypocrisy,” Grover told local news station KRQE. “If you’re being up front and you’re being truthful, and transparent, you shouldn’t be afraid of any sunlight or camera recording about what’s going on.”

Paul Sigurdson, a journalist for local news station KOB, told Bingham that  “You’re in violation of my First Amendment rights.”

The meeting has been postponed until the city can determine if video recording will be allowed.

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