NM city releases video of officer 'pummeling' teen

Two Santa Fe officers were fired and another was disciplined in the '07 incident


Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE, N.M. — The city on Wednesday released a surveillance video showing a four-year veteran of the Santa Fe Police Department pummeling a handcuffed teenager at the Santa Fe Police Station as two other officers look on.

The tape shows officer David Smoker - who was fired after the incident - throwing 17-year-old Brendon Singer to the floor and delivering blows to the teenager's head, buttocks and spine.

Two other officers, Robert Hollingsworth and David Rael, appear to stand by and watch the attack unfold. Hollingsworth also was fired and Rael was disciplined.

"After Brendon spat at Officer Hollingsworth, David Smoker unleashed a violent physical attack upon Brendon. The attack was captured by the surveillance camera. Brendon offered no resistance to the beating," said a summary of the incident written by city attorneys.

The summary said Singer and his fellow arrestee, a 14-year-old male, were "heavily intoxicated" the night they were taken into custody Nov. 16, 2007. The two boys were handcuffed and seated in chairs in the station's "patrol bay," a room where officers bring detainees to complete paperwork.

"These juveniles were being extremely belligerent, loudmouthed, obnoxious, and were directing obscenities towards the officers ... his abuse of the officers continued for a considerable amount of time and created a stressful and tense situation," the summary of evidence said.

However, "the surveillance DVD demonstrates that Officer Smoker used excessive force, battered a handcuffed juvenile and engages in conduct unbecoming to an officer," the summary states.

The city's police union supported the appeals of Smoker, Hollingsworth and Rael. Union president Allan Lopez said Wednesday that the organization's main objection was the severity of the punishment meted out to Smoker and Hollingsworth. There's a difference between engaging in criminal activity and breaking with standard policy, he said. "It's called progressive discipline. We're saying (the punishment) didn't need to be the last resort," Lopez said.

Lopez also said the union has concerns that punishment at the police department isn't administered equally across the board.

Police Chief Aric Wheeler said "appropriate action was taken" by the city. "The officers had consequences for their actions," he said.

Copyright 2010 Albuquerque Journal

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