We're a hawk on the issues.

Albuquerque Police Officer Burns Off Man’s Ear With Taser, Gets Promotion

The Albuquerque police have quite a track record of police brutality and mismanagement, prompting public protests and a federal investigation into the troubled New Mexico department. Now, it appears they have rewarded one out-of-control cop with a promotion and put him in charge of overseeing the department’s anti-brutality reforms.

In 2002, Timothy Gonterman was responding to a public nuisance complaint when he fired a taser at a homeless man, Jerome Hall, causing 2nd and 3rd degree burns on the man and literally burning off part of the suspect’s ear.

A federal jury determined Gonterman used excessive force in that case and awarded the homeless man $300,000. One day later, Hall was found dead. A suspect has never been charged in his murder.

“It was a mistake, and I have learned from that mistake. I have taken responsibility for it,” Gonterman said in the statement, reflecting on the Hall incident. “Since that time, I have become a use of force instructor and a less lethal technology instructor to train officers to use the minimal amount of force necessary to make an arrest. I am also trained in crisis intervention.”

Yet, apparently Gonterman’s training in ‘minimal force’ did not help in March when he was in charge of the command that shot an unarmed homeless man , killing him and launched waves of protests throughout the city.

In announcing the promotions, which are part of a Department of Justice mandate that the department crack down on excessive force complaints, Police Chief Gordon Eden made no mention of the fact Gonterman had a history of excessive force or that he was involved in the police brutality complaint against a second homeless man that caused national outrage just this March.

“With this change we are now intensifying supervision and increasing accountability by splitting the Field Services Division into two sections,” Eden told the public. “We have chosen Commanders Gonterman and Montaño because they have demonstrated the strong leadership skills necessary for us to move ahead with DOJ reform requirements.”

David Correia, a local college professor who has been active in the public fight for police accountability, however, said that the promotion is just another sign of the APD showing its true colors.

“I think the promotion of Gonterman and his troubled history is the real evidence of what Albuquerque police is about,” Correia said, disturbed that an abuser of the public would be promoted to help stop abuse.

Photo Credit: Screenshot


About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.