How APD botched the Shelly Ribando domestic violence case. APD Fails to Protect--Again

April 28, 2020

- The cluelessness and laziness of these officers is infuriating. I was an APD officer and sergeant for twenty years and I was embarrassed at how poorly the investigation was done and how none of these officers seemed to know anything about domestic violence law and APD SOP.

 

- From what I saw on these videos there was enough probable cause to charge Michael Patrick with domestic violence. Even with the shoddy investigation the officers had the probable cause to arrest. The law and APD policy mandated that they act to protect the victims.

 

- You can now add KOAT-TV anchor Shelly Ribando and her daughter to this incredibly sad list of victims being ignored by APD at the time they need protection.

 

 

How many times do we have to read news reports where the Albuquerque Police Department has, once again, failed to protect children in our community?

 

Seriously, Mayor Keller, how many times? How many times will you cover-up and make excuses for your police department? How many times will the most vulnerable members of our community be ignored by your police department?

 

Omaree Varela, Victoria Martens and the 7-year-old girl with bloody underwear are just three recent cases where APD failed to do their legal responsibility and act to protect.

 

You can now add KOAT-TV anchor Shelly Ribando and her daughter to this incredibly sad list of victims being ignored by APD at the time they need protection.

 

On April 15, 2020, three APD officers were dispatched to Ribando’s home. She is married to Michael Patrick, who at the time was the spokesman for District Attorney Raul Torrez's office. The call came from a Discover credit card agent thirty minutes earlier. The agent stated, “Agent on 21(phone) with card member. Female half said something about can you let the dog out. Caller heard scuffle. Female half said my husband hit me. 21 (phone) went 10-7 (dead).”

 

The APD video of the incident is posted below.

 

The Discover agent immediately called APD, which dispatched three officers to Ribando and Patrick’s home. The officers knew what the Discover card agent heard because it was on the dispatch information.

 

We now know what happened when the APD officers arrived because Charles Arasim received the lapel videos through an IPRA request. New Mexico politics reporter Joe Monahan then linked the videos to his website blog. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh74NLkDl3-bcOdNkjOYHNg and http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/

 

Upon arrival the officers contacted Patrick at the front door of the home. He immediately let them in. They asked for his wife and he told them she was upstairs in her bedroom. Officers then knocked on the bedroom door and Ribando opened the door. The other person in the room was her daughter.

 

Ribando admitted that there had been “a bit of a scuffle.” Ribando explained that she was calling Discover about a credit card charge. Patrick came into the room and “got irritated and inched up to me while I was on the phone. She (daughter) came in because she heard, and I am not sure. He kind of like hit her (daughter) side.” Ribando declined medical attention for herself and her daughter. Ribando then told the officer: “I told him (Patrick) I was going to call 911, which I actually didn’t.”

 

The officer asked Ribando what the argument was about and she stated she was irritated because he (Patrick) had charged stuff on the credit card. Patrick didn’t answer her about it so she left and went into the bedroom and shut the door.

 

The officer then asked, “How did he shove you?”

 

Ribando: “He kinda shoved me in the closet.”

 

Second officer: “Both hands on the shoulders, or just one hand?”

Ribando: “Yeah I mean.”

 

First officer: “Did you fall down? Were you able to keep standing?”

Ribando: “I fell down, but I am a small person.”

 

Officer: “Does he often get angry?”

 

Ribando, “Not like that.”

 

At this time the second officer begins zoning out. He is petting the family dog and begins asking how old the dog is! During the middle of a domestic violence investigation he interrupts and starts asking questions about the labordoodle!

 

No more questions for Ribando. The officers didn’t ask to see if there were red marks where she was pushed. They didn’t ask why she told the Discovery agent she had been hit. They didn’t ask who had disconnected the phone call. They didn’t ask if she was in fear for her safety and her daughter's safety. There were so many follow up questions to do a thorough investigation, but instead, Ribando’s interview stopped right there. Oh wait, we did find out the labordoodle’s name is Annie and she is a great dog. Unbelievable.

 

Next the first officer began interviewing Ribando’s daughter, with Ribando sitting next to her. Victims and witnesses should be separated when interviewed for obvious reasons. That didn’t happen.

 

The daughter stated that Ribando had gone into the room because “she saw that he (Patrick) bought something for a lot of money and that Ribando didn’t say “yes” to buying that and we couldn’t like pay for how much money that is.” Ribando then said something that is inaudible at this time. This is why you don’t interview witnesses/victims together, so one can’t interject or coach the other.

 

The daughter continued: “A couple minutes later he (Patrick) came in and shoved her (Ribando) against the wall.”

 

Officer: “Did he hit you or push you or anything?”

 

Daughter: “Yeah he kinda pushed me too and then he just left (she is then inaudible).”

 

Ribando: “We decided to lock it (the bedroom door) and we will talk in the morning, nothing more to be said tonight (inaudible).”

 

The officers end the interview with Ribando and her daughter. They don’t look at the closet to see if there was damage. They don’t ask the daughter if she had red marks. They don’t ask her if she was scared for her or Ribando's well being. They didn't ask any follow up questions.

 

The officers then interviewed Patrick. When asked by the officer if he pushed or punched Ribando or her daughter, Patrick stated, “Oh no there was no punching. I mean, there was me, Ava was behind me and there was me doing this (extending his arm). And then I left and went to the guest room.” That’s it. In this short statement the officer apparently made his mind up that Ribando and her daughter had not been pushed.

 

The interview with Patrick lasted less than one minute. That's stunningly insane! Insane and incompetent. The officer did not ask him why Ribando and his daughter were making these allegations against him. The officer didn’t ask Patrick, nor Ribando, how the phone was disconnected during the Discovery call. The officer didn’t ask if Ribando had fallen, and if so, why did she fall? In less than one minute the officer dismissed Ribando’s allegation, the daughter's allegation and the statement from the Discovery agent. The officers spent more time playing with the family dog than doing an investigation.

 

The officer made a decision not to arrest Patrick without going back up to Ribando to clarify any of his statements to her. In less than fifty seconds the officer dismissed the mother and daughter allegations and went with Patrick’s story that didn’t explain anything. #metoo huh.

 

In my opinion, the officers had two and possibly three charges against Patrick. A domestic violence simple battery charge for pushing Ribando. A domestic violence simple battery/child abuse charge for pushing his daughter. The third charge would be domestic violence /interference with communications if Patrick had been the one to disconnect the phone call.

 

What happened instead of Patrick being charged and taking a trip to jail? Nothing.

 

The cluelessness and laziness of these officers is infuriating. I was an APD officer and sergeant for twenty years and I was embarrassed at how poorly the investigation was done and how none of these officers seemed to know anything about domestic violence law and APD SOP.

 

New Mexico statute 40-13-7, mandates that “law enforcement officers SHALL be required to take whatever steps are reasonably necessary to protect the victim from further domestic abuse. Section B (5) stipulates that arresting the alleged perpetrator is appropriate,,,,, is premised upon probable cause to believe that the alleged perpetrator committed domestic abuse against the victim…..”

 

APD officers are mandated to make arrests for domestic violence when they have the probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. In this case you had Ribando’s statement, her daughter's statement and the Discover card agent's statement. So why didn’t they arrest Patrick?

 

APD SOP 4-25 details how APD officers are to respond to domestic violence calls. 4-25-3A states “that if an offender is still at the scene of a domestic violence case, the officer SHALL, when arrest is reasonably necessary to protect the victim from further domestic abuse, …. Place the offender under arrest, rather than merely issuing a criminal summons.”

 

This law and this policy were developed to protect victims of domestic violence. When I began my career as a police officer we were not allowed to arrest unless we observed the actual crime. Many times, we would respond to the same residence over and over until someone was dead. That is why this law was enacted, to protect the victims and intervene early.

 

As the officers are leaving the second officer goes up to tell Ribando what they decided.

 

Ribando: “Where is he?”

 

Officer is inaudible, says something about “going to a motel and he can come back in the morning and that this is our practice.”

 

Ribando: “So you aren’t taking him to jail?”

 

Officer: “No, no, no.”

 

Ribando: “Ok, I would say if this happens every night, if it happened every night, you know what I mean, because I have a daughter to protect.”

 

The officer tells Ribando not to talk to Patrick until tomorrow and “to just lock yourself in here (the bedroom) and let to tomorrow happen when it happens….. he is going to go stay somewhere and tomorrow he can come back.”

 

Ribando then asks her daughter if she heard what was just said.

 

Officer: “He’s not in trouble, OK. I mean there is going to be a report. We have to write a report. We are going to put down what you said and what he said. There are no charges being filed. Just documenting right, kind of really ultimately cover us (APD) because we have write a report so if he comes back and whatever happens.”

 

Ribando to her daughter: “So he gets a break you know because he is a little mad right now and he will be fine.”

 

Then the officer goes back to petting that damn dog.

 

“Whatever happens?” Is the officer implying that Patrick might come back and continue the abuse? That the abuser might come back and shoot or stab and kill the victims? That the officers will be protected because they wrote a report? In what reality does this officer live? You make the arrest so that Ribando and her daughter don’t have to risk Patrick coming back and “whatever happens,” actually happens to them. That’s the whole reason we have specific domestic violence statutes and SOP.

 

The Albuquerque Journal reported this incident on April 18, 2020. In their report APD stated that they will issue a criminal summons for Michael Patrick for the charge of Battery on a Household Member. They also reported that Patrick's boss, District Attorney Raul Torrez's office, told them that APD would be making any criminal referral to an independent special prosecutor.

 

Since when does APD find their own special prosecutor? DA Torrez needs to tell us what his office is going to do regarding Patrick, and it needs to do so now.

 

As of April 27, 2020, twelve days after the domestic violence call, I found no criminal complaints filed against Michael Patrick. I don’t think APD will charge him because the officers that night made it very clear that they were not charging him. Here is a hint to APD if they do decide to pick up the pieces and do the right thing: be sure you subpoena the Discover agent phone call and include it in your case. There is evidence of a battery on the phone call, EVIDENCE!

 

From what I saw on these videos there was enough probable cause to charge Patrick with domestic violence. Even with the shoddy investigation the officers had the probable cause to arrest. The law and APD policy mandated that they act to protect the victims. The law and policy also mandate that Ribando be handed a domestic violence packet that would give her access to dozens of local resources for domestic violence victims. The videos show that Ribando was never offered nor given this information. The videos do show that APD officers really liked Ribando’s dog. If only the officers would spend as much time actually investigating the domestic violence as they did playing with the damn dog.

 

So here we go again. APD called to a scene and failing to act as required by law and policy. How often will Keller allow this to happen before holding someone in charge at APD accountable? Will it take another death or beating? Would Keller even act then? And we don’t need another task force to figure out what went wrong.

 

All Keller has to do is pull the training records for these officers regarding domestic violence. If they were trained correctly then the officers, the sergeant who signed the report and the watch commander need to be retrained. If the training records show APD isn’t training domestic violence correctly (which I will find very hard to believe), then the problem is in the academy training and must be immediately addressed.

 

Accountability. I don’t believe Keller knows what the word means.

 

Maybe with a spokeswoman like Shelly Ribando we can put this on the front burner and change APD for the better before another tragedy happens. This was not a he said/she said incident. It was the Discover agent, Ribando and her daughter saying they were battered versus Patrick. It disturbs me that the officers dismissed all three and sided with Patrick instead. I used to think #metoo was a joke, this incident is making me reconsider that opinion.

 

If this is the new APD, God help us. I don’t want a kinder and gentler police department that plays with puppies when they should be doing police work. I want a department that serves and protects and does their job in a professional manner. The next tragedy is around the corner if Keller doesn’t get a handle on this.

 

Mayor Keller, why is this so hard?

 

 

 

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