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District Attorney Won’t Press Charges Against Teenagers Detained After BLM Protest in ABQ

Nash Jones / KUNM
Demonstrators at the May 28 Black Lives Matter protest in Albuquerque's International District

The Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office is not going to press charges against four teenagers who were detained on Thursday, May 28, after a Black Lives Matter protest in Albuquerque’s International District. SWAT officers took them into custody that night, saying they had fired a gun near the demonstration, an allegation the teens deny. Police did not charge them with anything, and the District Attorney's Office won’t pursue it, saying APD doesn’t have evidence to support a criminal case.

Prosecutors were in communication with detectives for two weeks, and on Friday, said they agree there is "no provable crime" and "no viable criminal case."

Albuquerque Police Department spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos says undercover officers witnessed shots fired from the car the teens were in, and from one other vehicle. "I think that’s when the helicopter started following them," Gallegos said, "and I think we had other vehicles start following them too."

When people who left the protest saw the teenagers being detained by SWAT officers, some intervened. Gallegos says someone smashed the window of a police K-9 vehicle. APD used tear gas and riot police to disperse the crowd. The teens were taken into custody in an armored vehicle.

After uniformed officers cleared the scene, APD left the car behind, along with the keys. BLM organizer Clifton White drove it away, planning to return it to its owner, his wife told KUNM. Officers pulled him over, and took the car, but Gallegos says the intervention hindered APD’s investigation.

He says they did later find over 20 shell casings from two or three different weapons in the area, but they never found a gun. 

Gallegos says APD is investigating a Level 1 use of force by officers against one of the teenagers. In APD documents, that's defined as “force that is likely to cause only transitory pain, disorientation and/or discomfort as a means of gaining compliance.”

Hannah served as news director at KUNM and reported on education, Albuquerque politics, and anything public health-related. She died in November 2020.
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