APD pulls out of Marshals Service task forces

The Albuquerque Police Department has pulled a detective out of a U.S. Marshals Service task force, and won't assign any more officers to the unit, saying Marshals Service's use-of-force policies aren't in line with APD rules.

The decision to yank the detective from the task force was made last year under former Mayor Richard Berry's administration. It stemmed from a May, 2016 fatal shooting in which the APD officers had to come to the rescue of a task force member.

Apparently, the U.S. Marshals Service hasn't given APD access to its operational polices, according to Ed Harness, executive director of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency.

APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told ABQReport that the decision to no longer participate in Marshal Service task forces was made last year .

“The Department previously had one APD officer assigned to a task force with the U.S. Marshal’s Service. The task force was involved in officer-involved shootings in which tactics and follow-up reviews of the use of force were not in line with APD’s operational policies,” Gallegos said. “As a result, APD is not currently assigning an officer to that task force, but the department continues to assign officers to other federal partners.”

The issue came to light on Tuesday during a meeting of the Police Oversight Board's Case Review Subcommittee. Harness said that in October 2017, APD's Force Review Board was told that APD investigators couldn't get access to the Marshal Service's policies.

“"There is an officer involved shooting case. That's a case where APD doesn't have jurisdiction be cause the officer when assigned to a task force is operating under the task force's policies, and the discussion was at the Force Review Board that if you are going to have officers operating in these under these task forces, then your MOUs must be detailed, and you must have access to those jurisdiction's policies, which the feds and other jurisdictions would not give us access to their policies, so right now. that practice has been halted. No officers are doing those types of joint ventures any more," Harness said during the meeting.

The case involved the May 2016 fatal shooting of 31-year-old Mario Montoya, who was the subject of a task force search. Task force members found him at an apartment complex near Central and Western Skies. That’s when things got violent.

Montoya allegedly opened fire on officers when they tried to arrest him. U.S. Marshals say that is when U.S. Marshals and the Albuquerque Police Department fired back.

After the arrest team was able to retreat to a safe location, a second team later entered the residence and found Montoya in a closet; he had been struck in the exchange of gunfire and was deceased.

POB board member Joanne Fine said the board could not make a decision on whether the APD officer who shot Montoya should be disciplined because it doesn't know what the Marshals Service's rules are, and thus there is no way to determine if the APD officer violated those rules.

“We could not measure this,” Fine told ABQReport. “We need to compare their behavior to what those rules are, and so the Marshal Service did not allow us to take a look at those MOUs, so it made it impossible for us to asses the behavior."

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque did not immediately have a comment on the issue.

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