Judge: Former APD Chief Eden Must Face Defamation Suit From Fired Cop
A state court judge has refused to dismiss a defamation lawsuit against former Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden by an APD officer that he fired, Jeremy Dear.
The decision by state District Court Judge Alan Malott means that the defamation suit against Eden by Dear can go forward.
In a ruling filed Tuesday morning, Malott dismissed the city of Albuquerque from the lawsuit, meaning that the city might not have to pay for Eden's defense going forward.
Dear sued Eden in November 2017, saying that Eden publicly stated that Dear had been untruthful and insubordinate in connection with the killing of 19-year-old Mary Hawkes, who Dear fatally shot in April 2014.
On the night of the shooting, Dear's lapel camera either malfunctioned, or became unplugged, and APD was not able to recover any video of the shooting from the camera.
Dear's lawsuit said internal investigations by APD did not find that Dear was untruthful with investigators When the lawsuit was filed, Dear's attorney, Thomas Grover, said that Dear was not insubordinate, because he was never ordered to record all citizen encounters on his lapel camera, and so he could not have violated that order. The lawsuit also alleges that such an order would not have lawful.
Earlier this year, the city settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Hawkes family regarding the shooting.
Dear's lawsuit said that Eden made two public statements that defamed him. The first was before a class sponsored by the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce in April 2016. Eden did not mention Dear by name.
“How can I, as a police chief, bring a person back that I witnessed lie? That I witnessed act in insubordinate ways? His own colleagues said, ‘He’s not going to change,’ ” Eden told the class, according to a story in the Albuquerque Journal.
In the second case, the lawsuit alleges, Eden issued a statement to the media: “Insubordination tears at the very fabric of public safety especially when the officer makes a choice not to follow a lawful order.”
Dear says the statements harmed his “good name and character” and resulted in personal humiliation, mental anguish and suffering. He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.