Albuquerque – This morning, Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg announced felony assault charges against the Albuquerque Police Officer involved in a brutal assault on a UNM student during a traffic stop. The incident was first reported publicly in May by the public advocacy group ProgressNow NM which released the officer’s own lapel-worn video and police reports from the incident that cost the student a testicle after being assaulted by the officer.
Patrick Davis, ProgressNowNM’s Executive Director:
“We applaud the district attorney’s decision to vigorously review allegations of police misconduct and for the courage to take action where justice demands it. This case shows that the Albuquerque Police Department has a long way to go to restore public trust in its own process to police itself since the department appears to have taken no action until a community advocacy group like ours conducted its own investigation and shared the disturbing results.
As a former police officer myself, I watched that tape and saw an officer who was mindful that his actions were wrong and then try to delete evidence of it. It was a wrong on top of a wrong. As a resident of Albuquerque, I’m disappointed that the department had this same evidence and took no action until we went public. Let’s hope the judicial process provides some greater public oversight than the department itself has provided thus far.”
The video, which has been viewed more than 61,000 times since being released in May, was obtained by ProgressNowNM through public records requests. It shows Albuquerque Police Officer Pablo Padilla kneeing a University of New Mexico student in the groin during a traffic stop. The student falls to the ground in pain but the officer did not take the victim to the hospital. The video also captures the officer taking a cell phone from a nearby witness and deleting the phone’s video of the incident.
The officer’s initial report made no mention of the assault or the victim’s later hospital care which resulted in doctors removing a ruptured testicle. Until the video and police reports were made public by ProgressNow NM and widely reported in local news, the police department appeared not to have taken action against the officer, though supplemental reports show that supervisors were aware of the victim’s injuries.
After the video and reports were released, the police department placed Padilla on an administrative assignment and later suspended him but cleared him to return to work.
The state’s Law Enforcement Academy Board later revoked his police officer certification, but city payroll records show that Padilla continues to earn $54,995 per year in a “police officer” job classification position.
Late last year, District Attorney Brandenburg charged two Albuquerque police officers with murder in the shooting death of an Albuquerque homeless man which was also captured on tape. Padilla’s charges mark the third APD officer charged with felonies since the US Department of Justice found that the department routinely engages in a pattern and practice of excessive force against residents.
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