89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

WED: Sixth officer leaves APD amid DWI Probe, Arrested UNM SUB protesters released, + More

In the upcoming fiscal year, New Mexico police will get bigger department budgets, recruitment and tenure bonuses, and an exemption to return to work while keeping their pensions.
Shelby Kleinhans
Source New Mexico
In the upcoming fiscal year, New Mexico police will get bigger department budgets, recruitment and tenure bonuses, and an exemption to return to work while keeping their pensions.

UNM Gaza Solidarity Encampment still in place after arrests — Daniel Montaño, Source NM

All protesters arrested for criminal trespassing and wrongful use of public property during an encampment protest of the University of New Mexico Student Union Building were released Tuesday evening.

A pro-Palestinian protest encampment has been ongoing at the UNM Duck Pond for almost two weeks now, calling for the University to divest from Israel. That protest moved into the Sub on Monday.

Austin Fischer with Source New Mexico reports the UNM Police Department alleges the protesters refused to leave the SUB when directed to do so by UNM administrators and the police.

At around 3:30 a.m. at least 25 officers from the New Mexico State Police and UNMPD entered the SUB and forcefully detained 16 protestors, 5 of whom were confirmed to be UNM students by administration.

A video sent to KUNM by a witness at the protest shows police tackling demonstrators, as well as throwing protesters against furniture and to the ground, and a statement on the protest camp’s social media said police injured “multiple protestors…including a young person who is pregnant.”

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico released a statement in defense of the protesters right to free speech and “to publicly advocate for causes they believe in.” They urged any students who believe their rights were violated to submit a complaint to the ACLU.

In a statement released Tuesday, UNM said “those who occupied the building were not peacefully protesting, they were engaged in criminal activity by entering, remaining in, and damaging the SUB after its closing hours.” UNM accused the protesters of vandalizing the SUB and other locations around campus with graffiti.

Sixth officer leaves APD amid corruption probe - Elise Kaplan, City Desk ABQ

This story was originally published by City Desk ABQ

A former long-time Albuquerque police spokesperson — a sworn officer who responded to media inquiries during the swing shift — has left the department rather than be interviewed as part of an internal investigation into corruption in the DWI unit.

Daren DeAguero was informed Tuesday morning that he was a target in the investigation and he was being put on administrative leave, said Gilbert Gallegos, an Albuquerque Police Department spokesperson.

“Investigators scheduled an interview this afternoon, but they were notified that DeAguero submitted his paperwork to retire,” Gallegos said.

He said DeAguero “characterized his separation from the city as a retirement” but “did not follow the process for retiring.”

In a letter to Chief Harold Medina, DeAguero expressed his gratitude for the opportunities he received during his tenure and explained why he chose to leave the department.

“Due to the current situation of receiving a letter of investigation with very limited time to obtain adequate representation to proceed, I unfortunately will be ending my employment from the Albuquerque Police Department effective April 30, 2024,” he wrote.

DeAguero joined APD in 2009 as a lateral hire, Gallegos said. He was with the DWI Unit from 2014 to 2018.

DeAguero is the latest to resign amid the investigation into DWI officers, some of whom have been accused of “working with a local attorney and unlawfully accepting money and/or other compensation in return for dismissing or failing to file DWI charges,” according to misconduct reports that APD made to the state Law Enforcement Certification Board.

Five others — Justin Hunt, Honorio Alba, Joshua Montaño, Nelson Ortiz and Harvey Johnson — have all resigned since the internal investigation launched on Jan. 18. The FBI is also investigating the officers as well as the law office of defense attorney Thomas Clear.

No one has been charged.

Two other officers, both members of the Internal Affairs Division, are under investigation but still with the department. Cmdr. Mark Landavazo is on administrative leave and a lieutenant who has not been publicly identified was transferred to another unit.

The internal investigation — led by Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock — was launched days after the FBI raided the homes of some officers and Clear’s office on Jan. 18. When completed it will be submitted to the superintendent of police reform.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Tim Keller released a statement, saying that the city will continue to work with law enforcement partners to “ensure no stone is left unturned” while it awaits the completion of the FBI investigation.

“The people of Albuquerque deserve to have trust that the criminal justice system is working to stop drunk driving,” Keller said. “These allegations of corruption between officers and defense attorneys are a betrayal to the people that police officers are sworn to protect and a betrayal to their fellow officers who put their lives on the line every day for our families.”

Congressional delegation calls on House Speaker to pass RECA expansion KUNM News, Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico’s congressional delegation is pushing for a vote to expand the federal law that covers people exposed to radiation from nuclear testing and uranium mining.

Sen. Ben Ray Lujan along with Democratic and Republican colleagues sent a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson urging him to immediately pass legislation to expand and reauthorize the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which will expire in June.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Senate already approved expanding and reauthorizing RECA in March. It would help downwinders in New Mexico who so far have not been compensated for exposure from the Trinity Test in 1945. It would also cover people who worked in uranium mines after 1971. And it would include new areas in other Western states.

The Senate succeeded late last year in getting the expansion in the National Defense Authorization Act, but its inclusion was blocked in the House, despite bipartisan support.

$500 million for solar energy goes to tribal families - Joaqlin Estus, ICT via Source New Mexico 

Look for solar panels to blossom atop low-income homes in Indian Country over the next five years. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced $500 million for tribes as part of $7 billion in grants for residential solar energy. Some $5.5 billion will go to states, and $1 billion to multi-state awards.

The $7 billion will benefit 900,000 households in low-income and disadvantaged communities, said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in a prepared statement. “The selectees will advance solar energy initiatives across the country, creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, saving $8 billion in energy costs for families, delivering cleaner air, and combating climate change.”

“Solar is the cheapest form of electricity—and one of the best ways to lower energy costs for American families,” stated John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for International Climate Policy. “Today’s announcement of EPA’s Solar for All awards will mean that low-income communities, and not just well-off communities, will feel the cost-saving benefits of solar thanks to this investment.”

“Residential solar electricity leads to reduced monthly utility bills, reduced levels of air pollution in neighborhoods, and ultimately healthier communities, but too often low-income and disadvantaged communities have been left out,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Acting Secretary Adrianne Todman said in the statement.

“Sunlight is powering millions of homes across the nation, and we’re working hard to ensure Americans everywhere can benefit from this affordable clean energy resource,” stated U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

EPA awarded $62 million to a nonprofit Native-led organization that brings solar energy to underserved communities, the National Tribal Program of GRID Alternatives.

GRID, in a prepared statement, said “the National Tribal Program, in coalition with The Alliance for Tribal Clean Energy, Native CDFI Network, and Native Renewables, is poised to revolutionize solar energy access within Native American communities nationwide.”

Co-Executive Director of the National Tribal Program Talia Martin, a citizen of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes, said in a statement, “This funding will enable us to make significant strides in bridging the clean energy gap in Native American communities, supporting their capacity to harness the abundant potential of solar power while fostering tribal economic development and self-sufficiency.”

”This initiative serves as a vital step towards alleviating poverty, combating climate change, and fostering the creation of sustainable, well-paying green jobs for thousands of tribal members,” said Cheri Smith, Mi’kmaq tribal descendant, president & CEO, Alliance for Tribal Clean Energy, in a statement. The money for tribes will support their self-determined efforts to deploy clean energy on tribal lands she said.

“We believe that everyone deserves access to affordable, and reliable energy solutions,” said Suzanne Singer, Co-Founder and executive director of Native Renewables and a citizen of the Navajo Nation, in a statement. “Through collaborative efforts like the National Tribal Program, we can support Indigenous communities in their transition to a renewable energy future.”

In addition to GRID, the EPA announced three other tribal recipients:


“The Midwest Tribal Energy Resources Association, Inc. and coalition partners GRID Alternatives, the Alliance for Tribal Clean Energy, and the Native Community Development Financial Institute (CDFI) Network will deploy Tribally-owned residential solar, along with storage and necessary upgrades, for the benefit of the 35 Tribes located in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The coalition, headquartered in Wisconsin, will leverage the deep expertise and experience of its members to build a program that empowers Tribes and Tribal energy champions, provides project-deployment technical assistance necessary to plan and build residentially benefiting solar projects on Tribal Lands in the Midwest, and includes workforce development to enhance tribal self-determination and self-sufficiency,” reads the statement.


“The Tribal nonprofit Oweesta Corporation will address adoption barriers to Native residential and community solar deployment by acting as the intermediary between professional services partners, developers, Tribal governments and Tribal organizations. Oweesta’s program will support an equitable spread of solar deployment across all Tribal census tracts nationwide. It will employ a systems-building approach to centralize regulatory compliance information, technical deployment, commercial solar standards, and Tribal housing expertise all within the framework of experienced Tribal Community Development Financial Institutions. Based in Colorado, Oweesta Corporation’s program will operate in Tribal lands across the nation.”


“Alaska Tribal Solar For All is a partnership between three organizations to provide comprehensive access to the benefits of Tribal residents of Alaska. Tanana Chiefs Conference, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and Alaska Housing Finance Corporation each have developed programs that will provide Tribal residents throughout Alaska the opportunity to benefit from solar. Alaska maintains over 40% of the nation’s federally recognized Tribes and is the state with the highest proportion of Alaska Native and American Indian residents (19.6%) in the nation. Whether a Tribal member owns a house with sufficient capacity to manage distributed generation, or a Tribal member lives in a community that operates a tiny isolated microgrid where rooftop solar isn’t feasible—all Tribal residents of Alaska will have the opportunity to benefit from this project,” reads the statement.

Pro-Palestinian encampment intends to stay at the duck pond, despite removal from the SUB – Mia Casas, KUNM News

After New Mexico State Police removed the University of New Mexico pro-Palestinian encampment from the Student Union Building early Tuesday morning, organizers say the group intends to continue gathering. The protest began last Monday, following similar actions nationwide.

Later that morning, students and community members were still gathering at the duck pond on campus. Several students walked up to the encampment asking after friends who were at the SUB the night before, saying they hadn’t heard from them, and wanted to know if they were okay.

Aida, a student who did not want to give her last name, was not at the protest that was broken up by police, but has been at the encampment for a week now. She knew a few of the five UNM students who were among the 16 people arrested.

“My heart aches for my classmates, for my peers, who are brave enough to be there,” she said. “I'm extremely worried about them.”

A vigil is scheduled for Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. at the duck pond. Organizers said it is in solidarity with the Palestinian people and UNM students who police forcibly removed from the Student Union Building and arrested.

UNM officials issued a statement Tuesday saying the university has long been a place where free speech and peaceful protest have been permitted and protected, but it noted that "those who occupied the building were not peacefully protesting, they were engaged in criminal activity by entering, remaining in, and damaging the SUB after its closing hours."

1 dead, 14 injured after SUV crashed into New Mexico store; driver hit accelerator instead of brakes - Associated Press

One person died and 14 others were injured Tuesday after a sports utility vehicle crashed through the front glass wall of a thrift store in Las Cruces, authorities said.

First responders said 10 of the injured in Tuesday's crash were taken to hospitals for treatment and a 67-year-old woman was critically injured and died.

The 69-year-old woman who was driving the SUV was not injured, Las Cruces police said. Her name wasn't immediately released.

The woman apparently was trying to park her vehicle and stepped on the accelerator instead of the brakes, police said.

Two of the injured were store employees and the rest were customers, and the victims ranged in age from about 30 to 90, police said.

The vehicle entered the Savers store near a self-checkout area and went all the way to the back side of the building, police said.

Elijah Sanchez, a Savers employee, said he heard people "screaming in pain" after the crash occurred about 10 a.m.

"It was pretty chaotic," Sanchez told Las Cruces TV station KFOX 14/CBS 4. "I didn't know what to think. But I just knew that the best thing to do was to try and go help the people who needed help."

F-16 fighter jet crashes near Holloman Air Force Base; pilot safely ejects and taken to a hospital - Associated Press

An F-16 fighter jet crashed west of Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico on Tuesday and the pilot safely ejected, authorities say

Base officials said the Fighting Falcon went down near White Sands National Park shortly before noon.

The pilot was the only person aboard and was taken by ambulance to a hospital for medical care, base spokesperson Denise Ottaviano said.

Base officials said an investigation was launched to determine the cause of the crash.

The F-16 was assigned to the 49th Wing at the base.

Authorities said all non-emergency personnel were being told to avoid the crash site to prevent possible exposure to hazardous chemicals aboard the downed plane.

As border debate shifts right, Sen. Alex Padilla emerges as persistent counterforce for immigrants - By Stephen Groves, Associated Press

President Joe Biden had a question.

"Is it true?" Biden asked Sen. Alex Padilla, referencing the roughly 25% of U.S. students in kindergarten through high school who are Latino. Padilla said the question came as he was waiting with the president in a back room at a library in Culver City, California before an event in February.

It was exactly the kind of opening Padilla was hoping to get with the Democratic president. Biden was weighing his reelection campaign, executive actions on immigration and what to do about a southern border that has been marked by historic numbers of illegal crossings during his tenure.

Padilla wanted to make sure Biden also took into account the potential of the country's immigrants. "Mr. President, do you know what I call them, those students?" Padilla recalled saying. "It's the workforce of tomorrow."

It was just one of the many times Padilla, who at 51 years old is now the senior senator of California, has taken the opportunity — from face-to-face moments with the president to regular calls with top White House staff and sometimes outspoken criticism — to put his stamp on the Democratic Party's approach to immigration.

The son of Mexican immigrants and first Latino to represent his state in the Senate, Padilla has emerged as a persistent force at a time when Democrats are increasingly focused on border security and the country's posture toward immigrants is uncertain.

Illegal immigration is seen as a growing political crisis for Democrats after authorities both at the border and in cities nationwide have struggled to handle recent surges. The party may also be losing favor with Hispanic voters amid disenchantment with Biden. But Padilla, in a series of interviews with The Associated Press, expressed a deep reserve of optimism about his party's ability to win support both from and for immigrant communities.

"Don't be afraid, don't be reluctant to talk about immigration. Lean into it," Padilla said. "Because number one, it's the morally right thing to do. Number two, it is key to the strength, the security and the future of our country."

The senator has tried to anchor his fellow Democrats to that stance even as the politics of immigration grow increasingly toxic. Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has said immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally are "poisoning the blood" of the country and accused Biden of allowing a "bloodbath" at the southern border. Biden, meanwhile, has shifted to the right at times in both the policies and language he is willing to use as illegal border crossings become a vulnerability for his reelection bid.

Such was the case when Biden, during his State of the Union address, entered into an unscripted exchange with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican of Georgia, and referred to a Venezuelan man accused of killing a nursing student in Georgia as an "illegal" — a term anathema to immigration rights advocates.

After the speech, Padilla discussed the moment with Rep. Tony Cárdenas in the apartment they share in Washington. Cárdenas said their conversation turned to how they wanted politicians to avoid labeling migrants as "illegals" because it deprived them of dignity.

Padilla told him he would call the White House.

"He's is the kind of person who steps in and steps up, and, you know, he's tactical about it," Cárdenas said.

It's a difficult role to play, especially as Democrats try to shore up what's seen as a weakness on border security in the battleground states that will determine control of the White House and Congress.

Even in California, Republicans have been emboldened on immigration as they try to reassert statewide relevance, said Mark Meuser, a lawyer who lost elections against Padilla for the Senate in 2022 and California Secretary of State in 2018. He argued top California Democrats like Padilla "are driving hard towards the extreme edges of their party."

Padilla has urged the president and fellow Democrats to hold firm to the position that border enforcement measures be paired with reforms for immigrants who are already in the country.

During Senate negotiations earlier this year over border policy, Padilla asserted himself as the leader of congressional opposition from the left.

Padilla, along with four other Democratic-aligned senators, eventually voted against advancing the package, ensuring its failure as Republicans also rejected it.

"He is a lone voice but it is a courageous voice in the Senate," said Vanessa Cardenas, who leads the immigration advocacy organization America's Voice.

It's been a quick ascent for Padilla, who is just beginning his fourth year in Congress. Yet for Padilla, it's the very reason he entered politics in the first place.

When he graduated in 1994 with an engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it was a dream fulfilled for his parents — his father a short order cook and his mother a house cleaner. But he was soon drawn into politics as the state's attention turned to Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot measure that was approved to deny education, health care and other non-emergency services to immigrants who entered the country illegally.

It was branded by supporters as the Save Our State Initiative. Padilla still remembers the ads for the campaign.

"Trying to try to blame a downward economy on the hardest working people that I know was offensive and an outrage," he said.

Now he sees parallels between California in the 1990s, which approved the ballot measure but then had it invalidated in federal court, and the wider country today: changing demographics, economic uncertainty and political opportunists "scapegoating" immigrants.

Yet it also spurred the state's Latinos to get involved politically. To Padilla, there's no coincidence that California, the state with the most immigrants, now boasts the nation's largest economy and is a stronghold for Democrats.


This story was first published on April 27, 2024. It was updated April 30, 2024, to correct Padilla's age, which is 51, not 52.