TIME TO DEMAND AN INVESTIGATION INTO TASERGATE
The Department of Justice, in its forty-six page report on the abuses of the Albuquerque Police Department, devoted seven pages to Albuquerque Police abuse of the Taser. The DoJ reviewed over 200 incidents that involved the use of Taser and found that the APD had used the Taser in an unreasonable and abusive way.
“Although we found the unreasonable uses of physical force, such as punches and kicks, the overwhelming majority of our use of force reviews involved inappropriate deployment of Tasers. Officers engaged in a pattern of using Tasers unreasonably, including in situations that placed individuals at risk of death or serious bodily harm; against individuals experiencing mental health crises, or who, due to inebriation or inability, could not comply; against subjects requiring medical treatment; against unarmed subjects; against individuals in a punitive manner”
Why has APD used Taser, almost exclusively, in less-lethal situations? By peeling another layer of the onion what will we find? Will we discover who is accountable for this abuse of Taser? Will we find a direct line from Taser to the very top of APD in the form of a multi-million dollar contract for Taser in exchange for a high paying job with Taser?
By reading Albuquerque news and Taser press releases over the last few years we have found a very questionable connection between APD Chief of Police Ray Schultz and Taser. Here are the dots for the reader to connect:
March 2013, Ray Schultz announces his intention to retire. He does not give a date, saying “A major computer upgrade is scheduled for this summer (2013) that has been in the planning stages for the past two years (since 2011). I want to ensure the success of these two very important projects.”
July 2013, Ray Schultz in his capacity as APD Chief of Police, signs a contract with Taser that costs the city of Albuquerque $1,950,000! Taser puts forth a press release stating that this contract is the largest to date that Taser has ever signed!
September 2013, Ray Schultz, in a written document to the City of Albuquerque states his intention to retire January 1, 2014. He further states that he will go on early retirement leave (still a city employee during this time) starting on September 7, 2013.
October 2013, Taser announces that Ray Schultz is now working for them. Just weeks after Schultz, as APD Chief of Police, signs the largest contract in Taser history, Schultz, still a city employee, begins working for Taser. This in violation of City Ordinance.
January 1 2014, Schultz formally retires from the City of Albuquerque.
February 28, 2014, Schultz gives an interview to KRQE (Tina Jensen) where he admits that he has been working for Taser since October 2013.
March 2014, Taser in a brochure announces that retired Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz will be speaking at the Taser sponsored police conference in Australia.
April 10 2014, the Department of Justice releases the report on Albuquerque Police abuses. Specifically pointing out the abusive nature of Taser usage within APD.
Could it be that Ray Schultz, in his capacity as Chief of the Albuquerque Police Department, created a culture where APD officers were only provided Taser products, excluding other less-lethal devices? Did Ray Schultz foster a training program where officers were to use Taser, even when in violation of the Use of Force Continuum? Did Ray Schultz profit from his connection with Taser, while as Albuquerque Police Chief? Did Ray Schultz purposely stay on as Albuquerque Police Chief to ensure that the $1,950,000 Taser contract was not reviewed by a new chief who may have amended or stopped it altogether? Did Taser give Ray Schultz a position with their company as a reward (kickback) for delivering the $1,950,000 Taser contract? Why did the City of Albuquerque (Rob Perry and Richard Berry) ignore the violation of City Ordinance that prohibits employees from working for vendors? Why did Rob Perry, Richard Berry and the City Council ignore the violation of City Ordinance that requires Schultz to not be employed by Taser for at least 12 months from the date of his actual retirement (January 1 2014)?
If this isn't self-dealing we don't know what is!
Since the Department of Justice has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to criminally investigate at least six APD officers for their actions in six deadly force situations; I would hope the Department of Justice asks the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the Taser contract and what appears to be a kickback (in the form of a high paying job) to Ray Schultz for his delivery of the $1,950,000 Taser contract with APD. I would hope the City Council opens an investigation into violation of City Ordinance and that the New Mexico Attorney General opens a criminal investigation into the Taser contract.
The timeline is very clear. The dots are all in a straight line. It is clear that Schultz benefited from the contract between Taser and the Albuquerque Police Department. Holding those at the top accountable is the first step forward. If the DoJ only holds the officers at the bottom criminally accountable then the system has failed Albuquerque citizens. Pray that the Department of Justice orders sends Tasergate to the FBI for investigation.
After all, as Schultz likes to say:
(for those interested, here's the disgraced chief's full presentation....http://www.slideshare.net/informaoz/ray-schultz)