Albuquerque Police Dept. 'Complies' With Records Request By Releasing Password-Protected Videos... But Not The Password

from the still-feeling-above-the-law,-thanks-for-asking! dept

If there's one thing the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) does well -- or at least, frequently -- it's shoot and kill Albuquerque residents. Its officers' obvious preference for excessive and/or deadly force attracted the notice of the DOJ, which issued a (mostly) scathing review that was tempered somewhat by the DOJ's appreciation of the inherent risks of the job, as well as all the hard work the city's officers do when not shooting Albuquerque residents.

On May 3rd of last year, Gail Martin called the APD to help her when her husband, Armand Martin, threatened her and her two children with a gun. This turned into a lengthy standoff which finally ended when APD officers shot Martin as he ran from the house. According to the police, Martin was holding two guns at the time.

The APD released a number of records, including footage captured before and after the shooting, but nothing containing the shooting itself. Local law firm Kennedy Kennedy & Ives, representing Gail Martin for a possible civil rights lawsuit, requested a copy of police recordings containing the actual shooting under New Mexico's Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA).

Over a month later, the APD responded. Sort of.

The Kennedy Kennedy & Ives Law Practice in the lawsuit said the department in mid-August released six CDs containing records on the May 3 shooting death of Armand Martin, a 50-year-old Air Force veteran, in response to the firm’s records request. But three of the CDs were password protected.
Now, this could have been a simple oversight, but if so, the problem would be solved already. Instead, it looks as though the APD is looking to keep the law firm from viewing the videos it requested.
The firm has tried to get the password from APD records, evidence and violent crimes personnel to no avail, according to the complaint…
Now the APD's being sued. The firm is seeking not only access to the password-protected videos, but also damages and legal fees. According to the firm, access to these videos is crucial to determining whether or not Gail Martin has a legitimate civil rights case. Without them, the firm is no better positioned to make this call than the general public, which has only seen the lead-in and aftermath of the shooting.

This isn't the APD's only legal battle related to its IPRA non-compliance. Late last year, KRQE of Albuquerque sued it for "serial violations" of the law. That's in addition to the one it filed over a 2012 incident, in which the PD stalled on its response to a journalist's public records request before releasing the requested footage at a press conference, basically stripping the reporter of her potential "scoop."


It's common knowledge that law enforcement agencies are less than helpful when it comes to releasing documentation of alleged wrongdoing. It's the one part they can't completely seal off when circling the wagons. This leads to weeks, months… even years of obfuscation. And this often leads to lawsuits, paid for by the same public it doesn't want to hold it accountable.

Filed Under: albuquerque, albuquerque police department, armand martin, gail martin, new mexico, open records


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Mar 2015 @ 6:47am

    And when they finally open the CDs they'll be greeted with a message "APRIL FOOLS" or something.

    At least in this case you have this possibility of seeing what's behind the password (crack it?) instead of sitting with useless sheets of paper full of black ink.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 6 Mar 2015 @ 6:51am

      Re:

      Now that brings up an interesting question. Would the police have any legal grounds to stand on if the videos were hacked, and the passwords found out that way?

      I wouldn't think so, but on the other hand, they intentionally sent over files that could not be used, so it's pretty clear they don't want those videos seen, so charges against whoever bypassed the passwords would not be unthinkable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 6 Mar 2015 @ 8:13am

    Is it legal?

    No mention is made of the mechanism that is providing this password protection, but the odds are pretty good that it's one that there is an easy-to-find crack for. My question is: is it legal for the defense team to crack the password?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 8:34am

      Re: Is it legal?

      My guess is that will not be their first course of action. My guess is they will ask for a court order demanding it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Machin Shin (profile), 6 Mar 2015 @ 8:43am

      Re: Is it legal?

      My guess for the question "is it legal for the defense team to crack the password?" would be no, it isn't. They would be bypassing a digital lock after all.

      Having said that though, I think it would be legal for them to post copy of the disks online. Then when it happens to get cracked... oh well, they didn't do it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 8:24am

    Password protected

    Nothing a few hundred dollars on Amazon EC2 can't fix.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 8:35am

      Re: Password protected

      Assuming the video is actually on the CDs. It's probably a stalling tactic. They will eventually get (or crack) the password and the discs will not have the video. After another records request, more court time, they will say the records have been 'lost'

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 8:44am

    Crowdsource it

    1. Upload the CD images as torrents.
    2. Publicize.
    3. Let everyone go to work on them.

    It may or may not be legal in the US to crack them, but there are plenty of jurisdictions around the world where it is clearly legal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 6 Mar 2015 @ 9:46am

      Re: Crowdsource it

      Load em up! I have some spare computers and time. :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Brig C. McCoy, 6 Mar 2015 @ 9:58am

      Re: Crowdsource it

      The problem with this is that the law firm would not be able to use any such videos in any legal actions. It would be trivial for the APD to say that any resulting video was 'hacked' or 'manufactured' and doesn't really show what happened.

      The law firm could hire their own expert to recover the videos, but it would have to be someone who could be vetted on the stand and 'prove' how he recovered the video.

      The law firm's best option is probably to go to court demanding the passwords and/or an unencrypted copy of the relevant videos. As part of that I suspect they would encourage the court to provide a timely penalty for non-compliance on the part of the APD.

      ...brig

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 10:04am

        Re: Re: Crowdsource it

        The problem with this is that the law firm would not be able to use any such videos in any legal actions. It would be trivial for the APD to say that any resulting video was 'hacked' or 'manufactured' and doesn't really show what happened.

        Nonsense. It's not at all difficult for anyone with even minimal competence to demonstrate that the unencrypted version derives precisely from the encrypted version via the decryption process.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 11:29am

          Re: Re: Re: Crowdsource it

          What the law firm only needs the password. When some one cracks the password and sends the password to the law firm


          This is a Good Wife plot if I ever heard one.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2015 @ 2:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Crowdsource it

            They need chain of custody for it though.
            1. Need password
            2. ????
            3. Profit

            will not work for them.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 6 Mar 2015 @ 1:42pm

          Re: Re: Re: Crowdsource it

          It's not at all difficult for anyone with even minimal competence to demonstrate that the unencrypted version derives precisely from the encrypted version via the decryption process.

          IANAL but it seems to me this would present custody of evidence issues if the video were cracked by some random netizen from who knows where and then used in a trial. Regardless of what an expert says about the final video.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          orbitalinsertion (profile), 6 Mar 2015 @ 3:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: Crowdsource it

          It doesn't matter anyway. When the password is cracked, one simply posts the password.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2015 @ 6:54pm

          Re: Re: Re: Crowdsource it

          Nonsense. It's not at all difficult for anyone with even minimal competence to demonstrate that the unencrypted version derives precisely from the encrypted version via the decryption process.


          Even better would be if the person who finds the password by cracking it, just publicly post the password. Then the law firm can decrypt the files sent to them by the APD. Problem solved.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2015 @ 8:01am

      Re: Crowdsource it

      Sorry, no. Crowdsource it all you like. That will not likely get through the encryption.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 19 Mar 2015 @ 8:44am

        Re: Re: Crowdsource it

        Crowdsource it all you like. That will not likely get through the encryption.

        That depends on how smart the ABQ police are. If they didn't pick a very strong password, several thousand PCs could definitely brute force guess it in a reasonable amount of time. If they picked something really long and/or really random, it would not be feasible, but my sense is most people don't do that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    APD, 6 Mar 2015 @ 9:04am

    We are unable release the password for reasons of security and privacy. Revealing it would cause major complications because, as per department regulations, we use the same password for everything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 9:13am

    "as well as all the hard work the city's officers do when not shooting Albuquerque residents. "

    So if you work hard and you sell drugs or do something illegal on the side does all your hard work help absolve your drug dealing or illegal activities?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 9:16am

      Re:

      (and I question how hard police or any government employees work. They would be working over twice as hard for the same pay in the private sector, not to mention all the risks they would be up against if they owned their own business. The risk of investing, the risk of not investing, etc... No, they got a nice easy risk free job that the taxpayer is paying for. and to the extent they really do work hard that's what taxpayers work hard to pay them to do).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 10:25am

        Re: Re:

        Those doughnuts are not going to eat themselves - that takes effort.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          orbitalinsertion (profile), 6 Mar 2015 @ 3:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I think you've discovered the perfect alignment. Many cops seem to like putting high-velocity holes in things. Many doughnuts need holes. Now we just need to find out what sort of customer enjoys a delivery service that enters their location suddenly with a tank and seizes the cost of their order.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 6 Mar 2015 @ 9:16am

      Re:

      Only if you're a cop or politician.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 9:41am

        Re: Re:

        and I can go on with story after story of how lazy and incompetent government is just in my own city alone not to mention adjacent cities. On this one street there are maybe over five street lights that have been out for maybe over a year now and no one fixed it. The city put those rubber band like markers around a bunch of them almost a year ago (so they're aware that these lights are out), more lights have one out since then, and to this date they haven't been fixed. Like I said I can go on and on and on. These guys don't do anything, the only thing they're good at is taking your money and pocketing it. They're worse than useless and government has been nothing but a burden on society, especially if you consider all the political corruption (ie: copy protection laws and insane retroactive extensions, etc...).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 11:02am

      Re:

      The ABQPD is apparently staffed by serial killers. I suspect that a full psychiatric evaluation of their personnel by independent third parties would reveal any number of sociopaths who've become police officers not out of a sense of duty, but because it provides the perfect cover for indulging their need to repeatedly kill.

      And when they're not killing, they're engaged in beatings, torture, rape, and false arrest. These are sick, evil people who have gained the power to act with impunity -- and shame on the US Justice Department for not shutting them down and aggressively prosecuting them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 10:31am

    I'd hack them privately

    Make a copy - crack the password, then view the video - all privately. If the video doesn't show anything, then you continue with the low-intensity press releases about police stonewalling, our client will get her day in court, etc.., but you keep the work to a minimum, because you know that ultimately you don't have a case.

    If the video is damning, though, you start hammering the courts and APD over this, up to the borderline of harrassment. Who cares if your billable hours skyrocket, because the minute they give you the password, you have your case, and you'll get every penny back.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    lucidrenegade (profile), 6 Mar 2015 @ 11:14am

    Try "donut"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bobberino Litt, 6 Mar 2015 @ 11:32am

    I’m not a cryptographer, but I am an optimist: I believe that if our businesses and academics put their mind to it, they will find a solution that does not compromise the integrity of encryption technology but that enables both encryption to protect privacy and decryption under lawful authority to protect the public interest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 6 Mar 2015 @ 1:00pm

      Re:

      And my children used to believe in the tooth fairy.

      Here's the problem: any such solution boils down the police having a special key. Even if the scheme used is practically uncrackable (which is totally doable right now), that doesn't help much. All it takes is one person to leak or steal the key and then literally anybody will be able to decrypt everything.

      In other words, any such scheme provides a single point of failure that is utterly catastrophic. Which means that such a scheme can never be considered secure.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bobberino Litt, 6 Mar 2015 @ 1:30pm

    My statement didn't sound suspiciously familiar?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 6 Mar 2015 @ 2:49pm

    APD response

    We lost the password. It was accidentally misplaced. No, wait, it was accidentally erased. No, really, it was discarded during a routine evidence purge. It was shredded along with other documents.

    Ever so sorry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zonker, 6 Mar 2015 @ 3:56pm

    Put the CDs in an Albuquerque police officer's luggage and send them across the border to Canada so they can be arrested for obstruction if they don't provide the password.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2015 @ 11:38pm

    What I never understand about these police cases is

    Where is the civilian oversight?

    No police dept operates in a vacuum - at the very least they get their funding from a town/county/state that has elected officials who are in theory responsible to the public.

    Why are the elected officials not doing anything and not being held accountable for the behavior of their employees (e.g. the police)? If the police is not cooperative with elected officials, why continue to fund them at all?

    It seems to me that it's rather easy to blame the police & their superiors, but someone is paying the bills and that someone has the ability to set policies. In extremis, CF. Regan & the air traffic controllers - fire them all, ask the national guard to provide security until a new force can be hired.

    Or have the civilian overseers of the police become to scared to hold the police accountable for their actions? If so, then that is the root of the problem and should be more cause for alarm that any police mis-behavior.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2015 @ 8:07am

    "My guess for the question "is it legal for the defense team to crack the password?" would be no, it isn't. They would be bypassing a digital lock after all."

    If the material was considered copyrighted (perhaps even if unregistered) then consider 17 U.S. Code § 1201 - Circumvention of copyright protection systems:

    (a) Violations Regarding Circumvention of Technological Measures.—
    (1)
    (A) No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.

    While making the claim that government documents are copyrighted might seem a bit farfetched, let's not forget that these kind of ridiculous copyright claims have been successfully pulled off in the past, such as the efforts to plug the recent leaking of private nude photographs in the so-called Fappening.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2015 @ 2:13pm

    They're not doing much to remove the "tainted" image of Albuquerque us foreigners have in our minds thanks to Breaking Bad. Crooked cops taking the law in their own hands is one that not everybody noticed but is very evident when you look at how Hank works.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    lady liberty, 8 Mar 2015 @ 8:45am

    stalling tactics

    They're photoshopping the video as we speak. Same as what happened with the James Boyd case. They take months and months to review the video only to release it completely & obviously chopped.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Leah Wingard, 23 Apr 2015 @ 1:00pm

    Kaitlyn Arquette murder

    Well if you want to read about how corrupt some of the Albuquerque police are..I just read the Lois Duncan book about what they did to her daughter.

    http://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-to-the-wolves-on-the-trail-of-a-killer-lois-duncan/1116063182?ean= 2940148583103

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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