APD sued over release of encrypted records

A. MARTIN: Shot by police after standoffAlbuquerque Journal – by Ryan Boetel

A local law firm has sued the Albuquerque Police Department for allegedly releasing encrypted records of an investigation into the fatal shooting of a West Side man by an Albuquerque police SWAT officer.

The Kennedy Kennedy & Ives Law Practice in the lawsuit said the department in mid-August released six CDs containing records on the May 3 shooting death of Armand Martin, a 50-year-old Air Force veteran, in response to the firm’s records request. But three of the CDs were password protected.  

The firm has tried to get the password from APD records, evidence and violent crimes personnel to no avail, according to the complaint, to enforce the request made under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act.

“The encryption … makes the videos completely (unviewable) without a passcode to unlock their contents,” according to the lawsuit, filed last month.

Albuquerque police spokeswoman Celina Espinoza said the department couldn’t comment on pending litigation or the allegation that it released password-protected records. The Kennedy law firm couldn’t be reached for comment and it’s not clear which records on the shooting the firm has received.

Gail Martin, Armand’s wife, called police to the family’s home in Ventana Ranch West in the afternoon of May 3, and said her husband had threatened her and her two children with a gun. Armand Martin was fatally shot as he ran from his home after an hours-long standoff. Police said the veteran had mental health issues and was firing from two handguns as he exited his home.

During the standoff, police tried calling Martin numerous times. But police said that he either often refused to answer, hung up or played loud music into the phone.

At one point, he told police he took sleeping medication and was going to sleep. Police then fired volleys of flash bangs and tear gas into his windows in order to keep him awake, according to aJournal review of police video and communications.

Police have released videos made before and after the shooting, but none of the shooting itself.

On July 2, The Kennedy law firm, on behalf of Gail Martin, requested “reports, photographs and/or documents or materials” on the shooting. It received the CDs about a month and a half later.

“After consultation with the IT technician, it became clear to Plaintiff that the IPRA materials provided by APD had been manipulated so that the videos contained within are inaccessible without the password,” the suit states.

The firm is seeking all the requested records, and damages and attorney fees, according to the suit. It hasn’t filed a lawsuit related to the police’s actions during the Martin standoff and shooting.

“As you know, we are trying to advise the surviving spouse whether there is potential liability for the killing of her husband,” Joe Kennedy said in an September email to Deputy City Attorney Kathy Levy and other APD employees. “We can’t do this without all the information.”


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