The Death of Mary Hawkes

As I have stated previously often how I come about finding cases to blog about is by watching television shows or seeing news articles.  I then generally put them on a list and when I decide to start working on this again I go through the list.  That is not to say that every case or story on the list makes the cut, and initially I was not sure about this one. At first glance this case comes off as a justifiable police shooting.  It is not until you dig a little deeper and open your mind, as well as remember there are laws to follow, that questions arise. In this case there are just too many questions to ignore.

When I first began to dig into this case, the first article I read was pretty cut and dry.  Simply put it reported an Albuquerque officer involved shooting of 19 year old Mary Hawkes. She had been suspected (although later all but confirmed, however, her death makes that moot as there was no conviction) of auto theft and had ran from the police. The responding officer, Jeremy Dear, reported that she had stopped running, turned around and pointed a gun at him and so he fired three shots.  There was also a reference that the Department of Justice (aka DOJ) had just recently released their assessment of an internal investigation into allegations against the Albuquerque police department about their use of excessive force.  The investigation revealed that the department needed to change their tactics as they did find "a culture of aggression and a pattern of excessive force." The death of Hawkes was the first since the report had been released. In this small article it was noted that Mary Hawkes was the daughter of a local retired judge.  As I continued to read the article I was wondering to myself why it was that I had put this case on my list. I am not one of those that believe all officers are good, but I also know that not all are bad.  Officer's put their lives on the line every day and if someone points a gun at an officer, in my opinion, they have the right to shoot.  Now, do they have the right to shoot to kill?  For me that is a case by case issue and I cannot make that decision for an officer who is facing the barrel end of a gun.  I would like to think that most officers who shoot at least start out aiming for none vital parts of the body, but again, I cannot say how they should react.

As I read on in my confusion I knew I had to read more because there had been a reason that this case made my list, and by the end I was pretty sure I remembered the reason why. As I continued my research I was quickly reminded. First, I am sure that this shooting made headlines and was brought to light for a few reasons. The first was because of the victim's family. However, just as is often reported in cases like this it was widely reported that Mary Hawkes had a troubled life despite what many likely think was a privileged upbringing.  She had had several run ins with the law dating back years but most were for petting things like shoplifting and underage drinking. We know as a society though that families with prestige and money can make waves and sometimes even play a role in the outcomes in the justice system.  Secondly, this case got more publicity because of the scrutiny the police department was under.  However, neither of these were the reasons this case made it to my list. It made it to the list to at least be researched because of the officer involved, Jeremy Dear. I am unsure when the police department began using body cams but the shooting of Mary Hawkes was at least the third time in which Dear had been involved in some questionable activity involving excessive force that he claimed his body cam had malfunctioned and there was no video of what occurred between he and Hawkes.

Still just knowing that his cam was not recording, and that it was not the first incident in which he had claimed this did not automatically mean that it qualified as a crime and deserved to be blogged about.   It did however, deserve a little digging into. To be honest after hours of researching and taking notes, in the end I cannot tell you with 100% certainty whether this was a justified shooting or murder.  What I can tell you is that there are  lot of questions that should be asked and answered.

While there was immediate "blow back" from this crime due to the recent release of the DOJ report, as well as the fact that Dear's body cam not being on, it appears that much of the speculation grew once the autopsy was released.  While there were significant drugs found in Mary Hawkes system including Meth, marijuana and an anti-anxiety medication it was other things that brought question to Dear's story.  According to the coroner Hawkes suffered from three gun shot wounds.  These wounds were to her head, neck and chest but also were shot from a downward trajectory at close range meaning that the shooter was close enough to her to taller than her and shoot down.  This does not match Dear's story which was that she was close but not that close and he shot forward.  If he was as close as the injuries indicate then he was close enough to disarm her. The coroner also found seven "blunt force trauma" injuries.  They were to both of her knees, both forearms, the top of her forehead, her chest and the back of her right hand.  Although I cannot confirm I speculate that these injuries would have occurred just prior to her death for the coroner to have listed them.  A few of them may have disabled her but it does not appear other than the one to her chest any of those would have caused a fatal injury.  However, once again, one could speculate that if both of her knees and arms had significant injury then she would have had difficulty running and maneuvering around. This would have also made her a weaker target for the officer, again giving him possible ample time to disarm her as opposed to shooting her. According to neighbors in the area they heard no scuffle, yet they also heard no yelling or voices. They stated they simply heard 3 guns shots followed by silence and then a sound of several police cars coming to the area.  

It was reported that a .32 caliber automatic handgun was found next to her and it was reported that a picture was taken of it.  However, the wording of that indicated that the picture of the gun was taken after it had been removed from the scene and I could find no more information on this gun.  I am unclear if they were ever able to trace the gun to her in any way.  Again, this is not to say that it was not hers and that she did not point the gun at Officer Dear, but it is not to say that it was and she did either.  Later reports claimed that a nearby car wash had a security camera and that it showed Hawkes running with "something" in her hand but there was no way of telling what it was.  Other recordings from responding officers' cams only showed things after the shooting, although how long is unknown.

The police department immediately put Dear on "paid leave" awaiting results from an internal investigation. I obviously have heard of several of these and while this case would have been a bit different as they reviewed the issues involved with his body cam, they generally take a few weeks to be conducted and analyzed. This one took much longer. In fact, I am unsure if it is considered done today.  The body cam that Dear was wearing was sent to the manufacturer to be examined.  According to their report, the camera was missing a clip that prevented the battery from falling out but the camera appeared to be functioning properly.  In their report, issued in July, they stated that the camera had been on and off through out the night including from 11:15-11:30 and then again was on shortly after midnight until around 4 or 4:30 am.  The shooting of Hawkes occurred just before midnight.  The manufacturer could not say with certainty however if the camera had malfunctioned or if Officer Dear had turned it off.  He claimed that he had purposely turned it on during the incident.

Another interesting aspect of this story seems to stem on not just the misconduct of Dear, but possibly the misconduct and a cover up of other officers. About three hours prior to the incident another officer was at a stop light when apparently Mary Hawkes pulled up beside him and they exchanged niceties. The officer claimed to be suspicious of the vehicle and attempted to follow.  Later when he found the vehicle again, there was no one inside but when he ran the plate he determined it was a stolen vehicle.  Reports claim that within a short time the owner was informed and went to the scene to retrieve their vehicle.  Inside on the console was a cell phone to which the owner stated was not his.  The officer took the phone and began looking through it.  Apparently using the Facebook application the officer found Mary Hawkes Facebook. The officer then ran a check on her to get an address. It was near this address that ultimately she would have an altercation with Officer Dear and lose her life. There are several things that are shady about this.  First, while I personally would not have known this, at this time there was a case before the Supreme Court, Riley v.s. California, in which they were looking into if an officer or any law enforcement has the right to look at someone's phone, whether it be to access particular things or even to trace it to have a warrant.  Now, the official ruling to make this law did not come down until about two months after this occurred but according to the Albuquerque Police Department they were already adhering to this rule. This means the officer should have known this. However, putting that aside I would have had less issue with that, than what occurred next. Ten days after Hawkes died, and one can presume near the time of the autopsy release, suddenly a warrant was filed for for the phone found in the truck; and a month after the incident a warrant was filed to access the Facebook application on that phone. Yes, you read that right. They already had the information as they received that on April 21st because it was that information that led them to her home but instead of saying they weren't aware of the law or the policy they then seem to play a game of covering their butts when they filed for the first warrant ten days later. Then suddenly someone must have screwed up again realizing that the phone warrant did not give them open access to anything they wanted and a second warrant was file to access the Facebook application.  

On December 1, 2014 the Albuquerque police department announced that they had fired Officer Dear for "insubordination and untruthfulness." They claimed these charges were not directly related to the shooting of Mary Hawkes but were an accumulation of incidents in which he had failed to use his body cam as well as an incident in which he testified in a wrongful death suit against another officer and was found to be contradictory in statements. The chief stated "insubordination tears at the fabric of public safety, especially when the officer makes a choice not to follow a lawful order."  Dear's attorney claims that Dear is being made a scapegoat for several reasons.  First, he has been quoted as saying Dear was "unfairly targeted for not complying with camera policy and that policy is impossible for any officer to fully comply with." His attorney claims that his firing stems first from the DOJ investigation and allegations and indicated the prestige of the Hawkes family biased his client.   Officially his firing stems from four events.  The first occurred in January of 2013 when Dear responded to a "brawl" and apparently struck a man with a closed fist in the face several times.  This was the first incident in which he claimed his camera malfunctioned.  His partner's camera apparently filmed the beginning of the fight and the aftermath but none of the huge allegations.  The second incident occurred a month later in February.  Dear pulled a man over for speeding.  The man filed a complaint saying that Dear pulled him from his car by his ear and kicked him in his genitals.  Dear claims that the battery on his camera must have died just AFTER he pulled the man over. The third issue involved the issue of his "conflicting information" in the wrongful death suit when a fellow officer was being sued for a police shooting.  Apparently on paper and later at trial Dear stated that he had seen a gun in the hand of the later discovered unarmed victim but there was an audio tape introduced where just after the incident Dear had stated that he was unable to see the victim's hands before he was shot. And, the "camera incident" involving Hawkes was the fourth.  

If all of the allegations against Hawkes are true then yes, he should absolutely have been fired.  In the same respect, if they are in fact true I seriously and highly doubt these are the only ones. I would gander to guess there have been many more involving innocent people.  I also fear that if these allegations are true that we are looking at another officer much like the case of Officer Kent McGowen in Texas who was so full of himself and sure that he could get away with anything because of his badge that he convinced others that Susan White and her son were drug and gun runners, to which they were not, and behind the mask of his badge he was able to barge into Susan White's home and murder her.  McGowen had been with pretty much every department in the area he could be, including the jail, and security firms but no-one reported to the next the issues they had with him or the things they had seen.  They just no longer wanted him to be their problem.  It would not surprise me to see that happen again, just based on what I have researched.


Comments

  1. i have more information that i think can solve this case i was her bestfriend and theres stuff that the media isnt saying

    ReplyDelete

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