The Albuquerque Police Department union leader was recently arrested for child abuse.
The Albuquerque Police Officer’s Association president is Stephanie Lopez, 40. Lopez was arrested this past Wednesday after her 14-year-old daughter confided in authorities at her school that her mother had beaten her the day before.
The girl told someone at the school that her mother hit her in the head and face over and over again. There was significant bruising to back up her story, as well as two witnesses: the Albuquerque Police Officer Association president’s two other children, a younger boy and an older girl.
— SocialInAlbuquerque (@SocialInABQ) December 11, 2015
The beating allegedly began after Lopez learned that her teenage daughter forgot to inform her of a utility shut-off notice that had been posted on their door.
The 7-year-old boy was interviewed by authorities and confirmed his sister’s story.
Aside from the child abuse, Lopez is also being charged with witness intimidation.
According to the official complaint, the teenager told Albuquerque authorities that when her mother dropped her off at school the next day, she was issued a “warning.”
“…You decided not to wear make-up today? …Think about what you say today at school. You won’t be with me. You won’t have your freedom. What happened to you was your fault.”
Lopez was arrested by the sheriff’s office after the complaint was filed with the Albuquerque police and handed over to the alternate agency in order to ensure a non-bias investigation, according to an Albuquerque Police Department spokesperson.
“We are aware that [ Albuquerque Police Department ] Union President Stephanie Lopez was arrested tonight by (Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office) for child abuse. Upon (learning) of the allegations yesterday, APD immediately called in an outside agency to investigate. At this time, no one from the department has read the criminal complaint or been briefed on the specifics of this case.”
Lopez was booked but was released Friday on a $5,000 bond. She is not allowed to have any contact with her children, and they are being kept in a safe house.
Lopez became president of the Albuquerque Police Officer’s Association in 2013 and was elected to her post. At the time of her election, the Albuquerque Police Department was already under investigation by the federal government due to excessive force allegations.
Her predecessor was Joey Sigala.
According to the Associated Press, Sigala’s resignation was at the core of a mass of alleged illegal activity.
“Joey Sigala, who resigned amid controversy over a union practice of giving money to officers who were involved in shootings. He later was fired after being arrested on domestic violence charges. Those charges were later dropped after his wife refused to cooperate.”
Lopez was also issued a warning after dealing with a domestic violence case in a biased way due to the involvement of a fellow officer.
The troubles in Albuquerque are not confined to the police department.
In July, Major Jessica Tyler, the person in charge of the Albuquerque Police Academy, resigned after reporting a sexual harassment complaint that caused internal affairs to turn their attention on to her.
She used a public relations firm to explain the situation to the Albuquerque Journal.
“The Sheriff’s Office is attempting to intimidate and retaliate against me for bringing to light discriminatory, harassing, false statements by a ranking member of Sheriff’s Department. These retaliatory acts are also an attempt to discredit my character in the wake of Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) claims which I have pending against the Sheriff’s Office.”
Stephanie Lopez pleaded not guilty on Saturday. She is on leave from the police department and is banned from possessing a firearm until the outcome of the case is revealed.
[Photo by Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center via AP Images]