On the night of May 26, 2017 at about 11 p.m. in Albuquerque, New Mexico, upwards of a hundred car lovers had congregated in the parking lot of the New Beginnings Church. On Friday nights, the parking lot had been a popular place for hundreds to meet and show off their wheels.
Video shows two men, Paul Francia and Jordan Mucher, are in a group close to Anthony Kapinski near where his car was parked. They are said to have accused him of previously stealing car parts. Kapinski moved to his car.
Kapinski then moved his car to the far end of the lot, still covered by the surveillance cameras. Francia and Mucher can be seen following Kapinski. Kapinski appears to be standing in the angle of his open car door (backed into the parking space) as he is approached. He is boxed in, then attacked by two men. They appear to be Francia and Mucher, but can’t be absolutely identified in the video.
Kapinski accesses a handgun and fires. The attackers disperse. One, believed to be Francia, falls down in the parking lot. Another, believed to be Mucher, staggers off. One dies in the parking lot, the other at a hospital. Each was shot once.
The next day, Kapinski turned himself in to police.
According to the federal lawsuit, prosecutors never mentioned that police had video that showed what led up to the shooting.
The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office convinced a judge to keep him behind bars until trial, arguing that witnesses saw him pull the trigger and that he had a long criminal history.
The prosecution withheld the video from the judge when arguing that Kapinski should be held without bail. While Kapinski had never been convicted of a crime, the prosecution said he had a “long criminal history”.
Kapinski was in jail for nearly a year.
Kapinski and his lawyer are now suing the Albuquerque police and the City of Albuquerque for false arrest and imprisonment. They claim the video shows such a clear case of self defense, there was no probable cause to arrest Anthony Kapinski.
It seems unlikely a judge would have been convinced Kapinski was such a threat he could not be released on bail, after seeing the video. Kapinski did not initiate the fight. He retreated and actually moved his car in order to separate himself. He was followed and attacked, boxed in without an easy way to retreat.
Video evidence such as this — from surveillance cameras, security systems and bodycams — is changing our society and legal system in numerous ways. Juries are increasingly asking, where is the video?
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.