Two former Albuquerque police officers are facing a federal lawsuit that claims damages for alleged excessive, unnecessary force after a February 2011 arrest where they were seen on video holding down an auto theft suspect and kicking him repeatedly in the head.
Officers John Doyle and Robert Woolever, who were fired from APD for the same controversial arrest of auto theft suspect Nicholas Blume, are named as defendants. Attorney Ray Twohig, on behalf of Blume, has asked for damages for pain and suffering. The lawsuit does not name the city of Albuquerque or APD as defendants.
In February 2011, Doyle and Woolever were captured on surveillance video from the parking garage of the Northeast Heights Hotel Barcelona chasing down and tackling Blume, then 32, as he fled from them on foot. In the video, Woolever is seen holding Blume down as Doyle kicks him in the head more than a dozen times.
Doyle later said in a subsequent report that he kicked Blume because he feared the suspect had a gun, so Blume didn't want to encumber his hands by grappling with him. Blume did not have a gun on him at the time of an arrest, but a handgun was later found in the suspect's truck.
Both officers were fired nine months after the arrest. Then-APD chief Ray Schultz said the pair violated several standard-operating procedures, including those regarding truthfulness and force. Also, Woolever was negligent by not preventing Doyle from using excessive force, the former chief said in November 2011.
Deputy City Attorney Kathryn Levy said Tuesday city lawyers had not seen the lawsuit and will have to look over it to determine if the city will represent the defendants or cover the costs of any legal judgments that result.
Twohig, reached by phone, said he did not name the city or APD as defendants because it's more work to make the claim that the city or APD were negligent, for example, in hiring or training the officers, but the payout would likely be the same without naming the entities as defendants, he said.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, claims the officers not only used unnecessary and excessive force, but that they had planned to do so. It cited the surveillance video, which shows the officers appearing to bump chests in celebration of the arrest.
Copyright 2014 - Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service