TUES: Fatal Shooting By Deputy Prompts Protest, Family Of Late Football Player Sues, + More

Aug 25, 2020

Deputies In New Mexico Fatally Shoot Armed ManAssociated Press

Authorities in New Mexico say deputies fatally shot a man who had opened fire in a neighborhood in northeast Albuquerque.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales says deputies responded Monday afternoon after getting calls about a man who was walking around and pointing a gun. Gonzales says the man fired multiple shots at deputies and two returned fire, striking him while he tried to shoot again.

Authorities say the shooting is under investigation and it wasn't immediately known how many shots were fired by the man or by deputies.

The man's name has not been released, and the deputies have been placed on standard administrative leave pending interviews.

The shooting sparked an immediate protest where about 30 demonstrators carried signs that read “no justice no peace” and “Black Lives Matter."

The protest ended after demonstrators held a moment of silence.

"Law enforcement officers must make split-second decisions to protect the lives of citizens and their own lives when faced with deadly force," the sheriff said. "While it is extremely unfortunate that a life was lost in this incident, it is completely unacceptable to recklessly discharge a firearm into a residential neighborhood placing the citizens and deputies' life's in immediate danger."

Bernalillo County Deputy Fatally Shoots 1, Sparking ProtestAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Authorities in New Mexico say at least one deputy fatally shot a person while responding to a report of gunfire in a neighborhood north of Albuquerque.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales says multiple deputies responded to a report of "an armed subject firing rounds" Monday around 4 p.m. near Alameda.

Gonzales says the subject shot in the direction of the deputies, who then returned fire. The subject died on the scene. No deputies were injured.

No further information on the shooting was released. Deputy Joseph Montiel declined to answer questions about how many officers fired and whether the person who was killed was male or female.

The shooting sparked an immediate protest where about 30 demonstrators carrying signs that read "no justice no peace" and "Black Lives Matter" approached several deputies, who stood motionless behind crime scene tape.

"We don't know the person who you all shot, but he's a citizen just like us," said Arthur Bell, an organizer in the Black New Mexico Movement. "We're out here because we give a damn, because we know how his family feels. We understand that, unlike you all, tonight he's probably not going home."

The protest ended before 9:30 p.m. after demonstrators held a moment of silence.

New Mexico Reports 69 New COVID-19 Cases And Three More DeathsKUNM

New Mexico health officials reported 69 additional cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 24,535.

That include two new cases among inmates held by the state at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County.

There were also three more deaths, two men in Doña Ana County and one woman in Rio Arriba County.

That brings the number of deaths from COVID-19 to 750 in New Mexico.

The Department of Health reports there are more than 800 cases among people held by federal agencies at facilities in Cibola, Otero and Torrance counties.

There are just over 500 cases among inmates held by the New Mexico Corrections Department in seven facilities.

The Otero County Prison Facility has the highest number of cases among state and federal inmates and detainees.

Family Of Late New Mexico Lineman Sues Former Coach, School - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

The family of a University of New Mexico football player who took his own life says the school and its former coach ignored his pleas for help and instead made him play while injured.

The mother and father of Nahje Flowers announced today they were suing the university, former head coach Bob Davie and the NCAA for not protecting the 21-year-old lineman, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in November.

The lawsuit filed in federal court said Davie and the university failed to protect Flowers after he sought counseling to fight depression.

Davie's lawyer, Michael Kennedy, says the allegation that Davie overruled medical advice is false.

A spokeswoman for University of New Mexico said the school doesn't comment directly on pending or active litigation.

The NCAA declined to comment.

The attorney for Flowers’ family said an autopsy later found that Flowers suffered from CTE — the brain injury associated with repeated blows to the head that can lead to depression, dementia and erratic behavior.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages and legal fees.

Family Of Late New Mexico Lineman Sues Former Coach, School - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

The family of a University of New Mexico football player who took his own life says the school and its former coach ignored his pleas for help and instead made him play while injured.

The mother and father of Nahje Flowers announced Tuesday they were suing the university, former head coach Bob Davie and the NCAA for not protecting the 21-year-old lineman, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in November.

The lawsuit filed in federal court said Davie and the university failed to protect Flowers after he sought counseling to fight depression.

A lawyer for Davie did not return an email seeking comment. University of New Mexico spokesman Daniel Jiron said the school had not seen the lawsuit and would likely not comment on any pending litigation. NCAA spokesman Emily James declined to comment.

Court documents said the defensive standout had sought counseling to fight depression but Davie overruled a therapist's recommendation that Flowers take some time off. He died days after, the lawsuit said.

The attorney for Flowers’ family said an autopsy later found that Flowers suffered from CTE — the brain injury associated with repeated blows to the head that can lead to depression, dementia and erratic behavior.

Aerial Inspection Company To Invest In New Mexico ExpansionAssociated Press

A company that inspects oil and gas pipelines from the air plans to expand in southern New Mexico.

State economic development officials announced Tuesday that LaSen Inc. has been awarded a $750,000 grant to build a larger headquarters and add more drones and helicopters to its fleet.

The company also plans to more than double its workforce by hiring nearly 80 employees over five years. State and local officials say they're excited by the prospect of having more high-paying jobs in New Mexico.

The announcement also comes as New Mexico prepares to ramp up required reporting of methane leaks from the oil industry.

That's something that LaSen specializes in, having surveyed more than 500,000 miles of pipeline. The company says it has detected thousands of leaks and has saved customers millions of dollars.

LaSen plans to invest more than $8 million in a new location in Las Cruces. The expansion is expected to have a statewide economic impact of $463 million over 10 years, officials said.

Survey, Focus Groups Aim To Boost New Mexico Competitiveness - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

One of New Mexico's largest economic development advocacy groups has launched an online survey to take the temperature of business owners and others on everything from taxes to public safety, broadband access and transportation infrastructure.

The goal is to use the results and a series of upcoming focus groups to develop recommendations on how the state can better boost the competitiveness of New Mexico businesses.

The push comes as many businesses face ongoing pressures brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and public health mandates. New Mexico has reported more than 24,400 cases and nearly 750 deaths since the pandemic began.

The survey, by the Association of Commerce and Industry, went live Monday and will run through Sept. 4.

It has the backing of companies such as computer chip manufacturer Intel along with some of the state's largest utilities, banks and credit unions, and New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico.

The focus groups that will start in September will look at potential growth sectors for the economy, including aerospace and defense, tourism and outdoor recreation, agriculture, trade along the international border and new energy infrastructure.

The association plans to have a final report and recommendations completed in December, with some preliminary results being presented to interim legislative committees in the late fall to ensure the conversation is going before lawmakers meet in January for their next regular session.

Los Alamos Newspaper To Call It Quits After Decades In PrintAssociated Press

The newspaper that has served the northern New Mexico community of Los Alamos for nearly six decades will publish its last edition on Sunday.

The Los Alamos Monitor announced on its webpage that the decision was shared with staff Friday by officials with Landmark Community Newspapers. The company has owned the paper since 1979.

Landmark President Mike Abernathy said the staff has worked hard to produce a quality newspaper but that their efforts weren't enough to overcome economic challenges that have worsened in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials also pointed to diminishing community support for the newspaper, noting a decision by local government officials to send their legal advertising to a free newspaper competitor.

The Monitor is the only paid circulation newspaper serving Los Alamos County, one of the most affluent counties in the U.S. and home to the once-secret government installation where scientists developed the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project during World War II.

The newspaper's first edition was published on March 7, 1963, using typewriters and typesetters in rented offices above a jewelry store. The weekly eventually evolved into a daily and moved to another location and was equipped with a press.

As circumstances changed, the publication was reduced to three times a week and then the decision was made to go to twice a week in March.

At its peak, the Monitor employed more than 25. Today, the staff numbers four.

Officials said Monitor staff will continue to print a sister newspaper, The Las Vegas Optic, until a buyer is found for the newspaper building in Los Alamos.

The decision to close the Monitor comes on the heels of the news that community radio station KRSN AM 1490 will sign off for good on the same day.

Abuse Complaints Decline Sharply Without School Oversight - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

A sharp decline in reports of child abuse and neglect in New Mexico at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic is prompting concerns that problems are going unnoticed while children stay home from school. 

The accountability office of the Legislature said Monday that hotline reports of suspected child abuse and neglect declined by 42% in April and 33% in May compared with the prior year. Across the U.S., about one-fifth of suspected child abuse complaints originate from school staff. 

Analysts says its too soon to conclude whether hardships of the pandemic are influencing rates of child abuse.

Legislators will be briefed on the report Thursday.

The Children, Youth and Families Department launched a publicity campaign at the outset of the pandemic that encourages people to report concerns of possible abuse and neglect.

This story has been updated to reflect that legislators will be briefed on Thursday.

County Elections Official Dies In Eastern New Mexico - Associated Press

A state senator says the top elections official in eastern New Mexico's rural Roosevelt County has passed away amid preparations for the Nov. 3 general election. 

Republican Senate minority leader Stuart Ingle of Portales confirmed on Monday the death of County Clerk Stephanie Hicks at her home the previous day. 

Hicks was running unopposed as the Republican incumbent in the fall general election. 

Election officials across the state are preparing to print ballots on an early-September deadline, with absentee voting scheduled to begin Oct. 6. 

Ingle said he confirmed through a county official that Hicks was found unresponsive at home. More information was unavailable.

New Mexico ACLU Sues Over Inmate Treatment Amid Pandemic - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and a group of criminal defense lawyers claim in a lawsuit filed Monday that state officials aren't doing enough to protect the health of people behind bars amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The complaint alleges that the government is refusing to enforce its own mandates for social distancing, heightened hygiene practices and quarantine measures.

It cites violations of the state constitution, suggesting that prison conditions “constitute cruel and unusual punishment."

The lawsuit lists nine plaintiffs who are being held at state lockups. Most of them are women and all but two are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.

The lawsuit seeks immediate relief aimed at protecting the constitutional rights of all people in state custody.

On Monday, state health officials announced 76 additional cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths.

There have been a total of 24,469 cases since the pandemic began and 747 deaths.

New Mexico Republican Leader Sees Quiet Support For TrumpAssociated Press

A half-dozen delegates from New Mexico are attending the Republican National Convention with hopes that President Donald Trump can reverse a progressive political shift at home.

State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce on Sunday said Trump is well-positioned to assemble a silent majority in New Mexico by winning over people who voted in 2016 for Libertarian former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Trump lost the 2016 vote in the state by 8 percentage points to Hillary Clinton.

Trump on Monday cast doubt on the integrity of the fall election in a surprise opening day appearance at the scaled-down convention.

Pearce expects the convention to highlight Trump's approach to civil liberties involving gun rights and free-speech issues, along with an aggressive approach to immigration and law enforcement.

Thousands Allowed To Bypass Environmental Rules In Pandemic - By Ellen Knickmeyer, Cathy Bussewitz, John Flesher, Matthew Brown And Michael Casey, Associated Press

Thousands of oil and gas operations and other sites have won permission to stop monitoring for hazardous emissions or otherwise break government rules because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The findings come in an investigation by The Associated Press. The Trump administration announced the first nationwide, extended easing of environmental enforcement in March.

Oil and gas companies had complained that the pandemic was complicating compliance with pollution rules. Facilities won permission more than 3,000 times to skimp on compliance during the sweeping government clemency.  

The Environmental Protection Agency says its clemency was not a license for increased pollution.

Penny Aucoin, a resident of New Mexico's oil-rich Permian Basin, said since the pandemic, she and her husband have spent days begging regulators to investigate surges of noxious gas or hisses that they feared could signal a dangerous leak from one of the many oil and gas companies operating near their mobile home.

"There's nobody watching," Aucoin said. "A lot of stuff is going wrong. And there's nobody to fix it."

Maddy Hayden, New Mexico's environmental spokesperson, said her agency stopped in-person investigations of citizen air-quality complaints from March to May to protect staff and the public but stood ready to respond to emergencies.

Almost every state reported fielding requests from industries and local governments to cut back on compliance.

Navajo Nation Reports No New COVID-19 Deaths, 12 More CasesAssociated Press

Navajo Nation health officials have reported a dozen new confirmed cases of COVID-19 but no additional deaths.

That brings the total number of people infected to 9,547 with the known death toll still at 493 as of Sunday night.

The figures were tallied as another 32-hour lockdown on the reservation ended at 5 a.m. Monday. The Navajo Nation lifted its stay-at-home order on Aug. 16, but is asking residents to leave their homes only for emergencies or essential activities.

Much of the Navajo Nation has been closed since March as the coronavirus swept through the vast reservation that extends into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. 

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