City Settles Another Wrongful Prosecution Case Involving a Black Man
By Dan Klein
-- For the third time in less than a year, the city of Albuquerque has settled a wrongful prosecution case stemming from a black man who was legally armed near Civic Plaza.
-- "I want Chief Medina to understand that he cannot push people around, using his power, and that even those at the top need to be further educated."--Deyontae Williams
The city of Albuquerque has quietly settled a wrongful prosecution suit and public records violation filed by Deyontae Williams. The terms of the settlement are unknown, but Williams and his attorney, Thomas Grover, both expressed satisfaction with the outcome.
The incident started on April 11, 2021, when Williams, a young black man, showed up outside Civic Plaza at what was supposed to be a Proud Boys protest. The Proud Boys are a white supremist group. The Proud Boys never appeared, but several hundred counter-protesters did show up. Williams was legally armed at the protest, and in compliance with city ordinance, he never set foot upon Civic Plaza. The crowd of anti-Proud Boy protesters became incensed upon seeing Williams armed with a gun. Video of the event shows the counter-protesters charging at Williams, who was accompanied by his child and girlfriend. The video clearly shows that the counter-protesters were threatening Williams. Williams is never seen threatening anyone.
At this time the Albuquerque Police deployed one of their Emergency Response Teams to protect Williams and his family and remove them from the scene. In the moments that followed, the ERT supervisor, Sergeant Hoisington, was ordered to detain and arrest Williams. An order that Hoisington did not comply with as he believed it was an illegal order as Williams had not violated any law or ordinance. Hoisington had Williams escorted from the plaza for his safety.
It is still not known who within Mayor Keller’s administration instructed APD Chief Harold Medina’s staff to detain and arrest Williams, because City Clerk Ethan Watson never produced the police report pertaining to this incident (this was part of the settlement). Let that sink in, the city of Albuquerque charged Williams and then refused to release the police report of the incident to him.
The fallout from this event started that evening when Sergeant Hoisington was relieved of duty and put under investigation for insubordination. This prompted a mass resignation of almost two dozen APD officers from the ERT team. Sergeant Hoisington was subsequently reinstated but it is our understanding he also resigned from the ERT team. (ERT is a voluntary assignment for officers who respond to protests and large crime scenes).
APD officer Conrad Griego was then ordered to file charges against Williams (T-4-DV-2021001212). Williams was charged with Intentionally Placing a Child in a Situation Where the Life of the Child is Endangered, a misdemeanor. (Video of this event shows the only people threatening Williams and his family were the counter-protesters, none of them were identified or charged with any crime by APD). The Bernalillo County District Attorney then refused to prosecute Williams and dismissed the case.
APD public information officer, Gilbert Gallegos, then announced that APD would go it alone and would continue to prosecute Williams. Not surprisingly, Gallegos was wrong, APD never moved forward with prosecution.
Williams is now the third black man that APD officers were ordered to arrest for carrying a gun near, or on, Civic Plaza. The other two, La’Quonte Barry and Frankie Grady, were charged with unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon on school premises (felony) as the city of Albuquerque decided that Civic Plaza is a school. Members of the New Mexico Civil Guard were also armed on Civic Plaza at the same time as Barry and Grady, yet none of them were charged. The only ones charged were the two black guys. The District Attorney dismissed the charges after conferring with the Attorney General’s office. Grady and Barry both received $40,000 of taxpayer money in their settlement. It is unknown how much money Williams has received.
Williams in a statement said, “I am extremely happy with the outcome. Could not be any more grateful having to face these challenges and having a good, supportive team behind me to help me with this fight (attorney Tom Grover and many other friends). I want Chief Medina to understand that he cannot push people around, using his power, and that even those at the top need to be further educated. I’m also very grateful for the APD ERT officers that responded to the incident for treating my family and I with the utmost respect and for following the constitution as Sergeant Hoisington was supposed to do. That is what a true officer does, uphold the constitution regardless of political beliefs or affiliations.”
Attorney Tom Grover stated, “While I hope the city and APD’s leadership will reflect upon this matter as a learning experience, I doubt they will. Public expression of dissent and the public’s ability to monitor government actions through transparency statutes such as the Inspection of Public Records Act are vital to our form of government and, in theory, lead the way to accountability of public office holders. I’m pleased I was able to represent my client to a positive outcome and am forever grateful to now count him (Williams) as a friend as much as a client.”
APD has been under Department of Justice consent decree for seven years. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other citizen groups are parties to this consent decree, yet the DOJ and the ACLU remained silent on the charges filed against three black men who it appears were only exercising their constitutional rights. If the DOJ (thru monitor James Ginger) and their partners in the decree (like the ACLU) are truly interested in constitutional policing, they should have brought this up to the federal judge. They didn’t. They only like certain parts of the constitution.
Ginger should give himself an “F” for not knowing what is going on in Albuquerque, and the New Mexico ACLU should be ashamed of themselves for letting their personal animosity toward the 2nd Amendment get in the way of making sure that all Americans, of all colors, receive the same protections of our Constitution. It just goes to show everyone what a farce the DOJ consent decree has become.
I hope federal Judge Browning, who oversees the consent decree, invites Williams, Barry, Grady, Sergeant Hoisington and the ERT officers who resigned, to speak at the next meeting of the consent decree members. These events clearly show that Browning is not getting the true representation of what is going on at APD and at Mayor Keller’s office regarding the consent decree. Ginger is out of touch, and the gaggle of attorneys and CASA members are just perpetuating a fraud upon the taxpayers of Albuquerque. It reminds me of the movie Blazing Saddles where everyone “hurrumps” to appease the guy in charge.
If Judge Browning wants to know the truth about the consent decree, how it is being implemented and who is to blame for non-compliance, he will invite these people to speak openly and without fear of retaliation, to his courtroom.
Requests made to APD PIO Gilbert Gallegos for an official comment on Williams’s settlement were ignored. I guess the 1st amendment doesn’t matter to him either.