Former APD Academy Instructors File Lawsuit Against City of Albuquerque

APD Police Officer Joshua Vega directs traffic during his Academy Training phase. Now, he is currently an APD police officer in on the job training with the department.


On April 17th, 2024, seven Albuquerque Police Officers filed a lawsuit against the City of Albuquerque. The seven officers were police instructors at the Albuquerque Police Academy, whose main function was to train police cadets attending the academy. The instructors claims stem from a story we broke back in late August of 2023. The story focused on a then-cadet named Joshua Vega. Vega is the son of one of APD’s Deputy Police Chiefs, George Vega.

The lawsuit filed outlines the issues they identified that led to claims of nepotism within APD involving the Vega family. According to court documents, on or about August 1st, a Commander with the Academy wanted to re-institute several “old school” polices from the Academy’s past to build a better esprit de corps within the cadet class.

One of those policies was to require male cadets to shave their heads bald with a razor before every shift during academy instruction. In the cadet handbook, lying and/or dishonesty are grounds for dismissal for any officer or cadet. An instructor, who is part of the lawsuit, saw then-Cadet Vega two days in a row and noticed that Cadet Vega’s hair was not razor-shaved. When Cadet Vega was asked about his hair, he informed the instructor that he had indeed shaved it. One of the instructors asked Vega to demonstrate how to actually perform a razor shave with shaving cream. The court document goes on to say that it became clear that the younger Vega did not even know how to shave his head.

It is unclear if his dad, APD Deputy Chief George Vega, may have showed his mijito how to razor shave the way he had learned in his formidable years.

Cadet Vega’s dishonesty had the Academy instructors start the process of an Internal Affairs investigation to investigate him and possibly terminate him from APD. The investigation ultimately found enough cause to terminate Cadet Vega and he was let go.

A day or so later, APD Deputy Chief of Police Vega was informed and repeatedly asked the Commander who terminated Vega:

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

After the termination, Deputy Chief Vega called the Commander who oversaw the APD Academy, and a meeting was held with higher ups.

In the meeting it was Commander Viers, APD Deputy Chief Smathers, and APD HR Director Karmela Ortiz. The meeting lasted an hour, and afterward, the decision was unexpectedly reversed to allow Cadet Vega back into the cadet class, much to the dismay of everyone involved.

After Cadet Vega was put back into the cadet class, the seven academy instructors involved in the lawsuit were reassigned to different positions within APD. Subsequently, the seven plaintiffs sent a letter to APD Police Chief Harold Medina, who is a close friend of Deputy Chief Vega.

Here is an excerpt of the letter:

Cadet Class 128 was one of the most controversial cadet classes with scandals listed below:

  1. a cadet who was murdered by her husband because there was a possibility the cadet was sleeping with another cadet.
  2. the cadet who slept with the other cadet had a mental episode and threatened to shoot up the class. That cadet was also allegedly involved in a homicide in Clovis, New Mexico, prior to joining APD.
  3. and of course this nepotism case with then APD police cadet Joshua Vega

Cadet Vega eventually graduated from the APD Police Academy and is currently in phase two of his on-the-job training within the Albuquerque Police Department. He then faces one year of probation and can be fired for any policy offense. However, it is highly unlikely he will be under any scrutiny at all due to his dad’s high-level connections within the department. Several field training officers we spoke to said it’s an unwritten rule that no matter who recruit Vega is assigned to, they will pretty much just let Vega pass without any issues because of the academy incident. No field training officer wants to be fired or reassigned because they find fault with Vega, so it’s easier to just let him pass every day.

The lawsuit is slated for a 6-man jury, but it is more than likely it will be settled before it gets to trial. In our experience, the City of Albuquerque will most likely have issues producing documents such as phone records, text messages, and internal documents related to this case.


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3 thoughts on “Former APD Academy Instructors File Lawsuit Against City of Albuquerque”
  1. Given the “unavoidable” traffic accident of Chief Medina and now this latest example of nepotism within APD, it’s becoming clear that a cleansing of the upper echelons is needed.

  2. How about now the recruit officers are doing a mandatory 2 week training to make up for the lack of training they got. This is putting there on the job training at a halt. They also just got certified end of March, when the graduated beginning of February. They were walking around uncertified in the streets of Albuquerque:

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