Han was a civil rights lawyer who frequently clashed with the APD in court.
There were allegations that police took photos of Han’s body with personal cell phones. The firestorm over the conduct was so high that the Attorney General was brought in to review the case.
“We have completed our review of the circumstances and APD’s handling of the death scene and we found that it was terribly mishandled due to inappropriate directions from high-ranking police and civilian administrators with the City of Albuquerque,” King said in a press release. “I believe the nature of Mary Han’s death should be properly changed from suicide to undetermined.”
The AG’s review found that a number of people from APD and the City of Albuquerque were allowed into Han’s home — where she died — which interfered with the investigation.
The AG also found that “significant items were removed or are otherwise missing from the scene” and that “a high ranking APD officer” chose to characterize Han’s death as a suicide early in the investigation.
Because of these, King said the true cause of Han’s death cannot currently be determined.
An August 11, 2011 column in the Albuquerque Journal questioned the determination of cause of death and investigation of Han.
Joline Gutierrez Krueger wrote:
Among those at Han’s home that day were then-city public safety director Darren White and his spokesman, T.J. Wilham; APD Deputy Chiefs Beth Paiz, Paul Feist and Allen Banks; Valley Area Commander Rae Mason; then-City Attorney Rob Perry; police crime lab director Marc Adams; and four sergeants, including a designated APD spokeswoman.
APD field investigator Mike Muniz, who photographed the scene, remarked in a police report that he “immediately found it strange” so many police personnel were on scene.
His office also encouraged those with information who have not previously come forward to contact his office.
Photo Credit: UNM Law School