Why wasn't Medina's son arrested?
By Dennis Domrzalski
-- Did Harold Medina's son get preferential treatment?
-- There were two arrest warrants for Dominic Medina, but APD officers didn't arrest him. Why? Were they ordered not to? If so, who gave the order?
-- Will the city hire an independent investigator to get to the truth?
It's a question that hasn't been answered fully and completely and that needs to be: Did Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina's 29-year-old son get preferential treatment from APD officers—treatment and a break that someone without connections would not have gotten—19 months ago when officers declined to arrest him even though there were two open arrest warrants for him? At the time of the incident, Harold Medina was First Deputy Chief of Police.
One of those arrest warrants for Dominic Medina, Harold Medina's son, was a no-bond warrant for failing to abide by the conditions of probation for a DWI conviction. A no-bond, or “Hold” warrant means that the offender must be arrested and held without bond until appearing before the judge who issued the warrant. The warrant was issued on Nov. 13, 2018, by Metro Court Judge Sharon Walton.
Neither Medina nor APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos have explained why Dominic Medina was not arrested even though there were two arrest warrants out on him. Here's the situation:
On Sept. 10, 2019, Dominic Medina, then 29, appeared at APD's Northeast substation to request an escort to his boyfriend's apartment to get his belongings. Medina later said that his boyfriend had physically abused him and that he was a domestic violence victim.
At that time, it's not clear what really happened on APD's side. Cops should run a warrant check on everyone they encounter in their official capacity. That's how a lot of criminals are caught. It's not clear if the officers who met Dominic Medina ran a warrant check on him, if they were told to not run a check, or if they ran it and found the warrants, were told to ignore them and not arrest Medina. At the time, the warrants against Medina were 10 months old.
Albuquerque attorney Thomas Grover is representing a former officer who was involved in the case. Grover told ABQReport that at least two officers who dealt with Dominic Medina that day complained about the alleged irregularities involving the incident.
“One (officer) alerted a sergeant outside her chain of command and my office, the other alerted other APD officers,” Grover told ABQReport. “Having represented officers across the state in IA (Internal Affairs) matters, I can tell you that an officer who fails to take action upon knowing a person has a warrant would be subject to significant scrutiny. The notion that two warrants, including a no-bond hold, could be so dismissed as a non-issue by Ms. (Sarita) Nair ( chief administrative officer for the city of Albuquerque) is antithetical to the very objectives DOJ and the IMR (independent monitor) have stated in court recently.
“Maybe it’s this type of action that the City attorney meant when he said APD has 20 years of unlawful conduct because last time I checked, interfering with an order of the court to NOT take action which has no obvious benefit but for the convenience of a high ranking official and his family member is not lawful.”
While Dominic Medina claimed that his boyfriend had abused him, the boyfriend told the officer that it was Medina who was the abuser. Here's the Sept. 10, 2019, police report. In his report, the officer wrote: “Based on my investigation I was unable to determine a predominate aggressor, therefore I was unable to issue a summons or effect an arrest. … It should be noted that the original comments to the call were for a domestic escort to allow Dominic to pick up his belongings, and I was not made aware of any physical violence until questions were asked of him.”
On March 18, ABQReport emailed APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos some questions about why Dominic Medina was not arrested even though there were two warrants out for his arrest. Here's our email:
There are accusations that Chief Harold Medina's son was given special treatment by APD officers on Sept. 10, 2019. On that date, Dominic Medina, 29, apparently showed up at an APD substation seeking an escort to his boyfriend's apartment to get his belongings. At the time, there were two active arrest warrants out on Dominic Medina. One was for failing to comply with conditions of probation on a DWI conviction. Police did not arrest Dominic Medina at the time, even though there were two arrest warrants out for him.
Why did police not arrest Dominic Medina on Sept. 10, 2019? Did Harold Medina, who was then first deputy chief, get involved in this case? Were the officers ordered not to arrest Dominic Medina? If so, why, and who issued the order?
Here is Gallegos's reply:
Who is making accusations? What are the accusations? Are you going to write something on your blog based on rumors? Be sure to point out that Dominic Medina was a victim of domestic abuse (on multiple occasions) and requested a police escort to get his belongings and avoid further violence with his abuser. If you want anything further, you can refer to Chief Medina’s comments made to the City Council when he was asked to address these rumors.
As you can see, Gallegos refused to answer our questions.
Here are some questions and points we have about the incident:
– Why was Dominic Medina not arrested by APD for his outstanding warrants? This is a clear violation of APD standard operating procedures.
– Why did Dominic Medina not respond to two arrest warrants? One of the warrants was for a failure to abide by the conditions of probation for a drunken driving conviction. At the time of this incident the warrants were 10 months old.
– Did the officers who responded to the call for a domestic violence escort run a warrant check on Dominic Medina as they should have? If not, why not? And if not, who told or ordered them not to?
– If the officers ran the check and found the warrants, why wasn't the check mentioned in the police report? If they found the warrants were they ordered to not arrest Medina? If so, who gave the order?
– Were officers ordered to change or rewrite the original police report? If so, who gave the order, and why?
– It's odd that Dominic Medina was not arrested and that his warrants were not noted in the police report. Normally this is mandatory for the officers to note in their report, yet it is missing. This is either very poor police work or someone interfered. Medina should answer this question: why was his son not arrested?
– Would officers NOT have arrested anyone else who had two outstanding arrest warrants? Meaning, would someone whose father wasn't an APD deputy chief have been allowed to go free?
– Medina told the city council that the entire event is on lapel video, but he didn't offer to make that video public. Why not? He should be ordered to make the video public now that he has brought it up. Will the city councilors demand that the video be made public?
– Medina told councilors, “I was not present, nor was I involved in the encounter.” Then why didn’t the officers arrest Dominic for his outstanding warrants (which is a command from a judge that does not allow any discretion). If the officers made this decision, not to enforce a judge's order, on their own then they violated APD SOP. Will Medina now investigate them and discipline them? Or did someone else interfere and order these officers not to take action? Will Medina order an investigation into this incident? Better yet, will the city have an outside investigation into exactly why Dominic Medina was not arrested. Extending favoritism is a violation of SOP. Ignoring a judge's order can be considered contempt of court.
– One of the officers involved in the case took the matter to an APD sergeant outside of her direct chain of command because she apparently felt that her sergeant wouldn't do anything about the alleged irregularities. That sergeant apparently did nothing. Will those sergeants be investigated for for failing to respond to allegations of irregularities?
– In his last report to the federal court judge in APD's reform consent decree, the independent monitor, James Ginger, said that APD was on the verge of catastrophic failure in regards to reforming itself. He said that APD's culture isn't really changing. Is the refusal to arrest Dominic Medina an example of that catastrophic failure? Will Ginger investigate this?
We'll have more on this story in the coming days. Until then we'll ask this question:
Do any of you think that if you or one of your kids had two outstanding arrest warrants the cops would have let you or them go free?