- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - An Albuquerque police officer caught on video repeatedly kicking a suspect and then giving a fellow officer a celebratory belly bump is seeking his old job back.

An attorney for John Doyle said this month in new court documents that the fired officer was made a “sacrificial lamb” by a police force seeking to prevent a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.

Doyle was fired in October 2011 after a hotel security video caught him and officer Robert Woolever beating a suspected car thief, Nicholas Blume. The footage from the parking garage at the Barcelona Hotel in Albuquerque showed Woolever holding the suspect down while Doyle kicks him.

The video also showed Woolever take Blume to the ground and strike him in the head with his baton while he struggles to subdue him. Then Doyle runs up and kicks Blume in the head repeatedly while Woolever holds Blume’s hands behind his back. Blume appears to go limp about midway through the kicking.

After the beating, the two officers give each other a celebratory belly bump, the video showed.

Woolever was also fired.

But lawyer Shannon Kennedy is appealing Doyle’s firing and says two officers who testified against Doyle at a personnel board hearing later contradicted their sworn testimony.

In a statement issued this week, Kennedy said the city terminated Doyle “for bringing Blume, a known member of the Aryan Brotherhood, into handcuffs within 16 seconds of being tackled and deploying kicks to his upper body.”

The city says it stands by the firing. The city, in court documents, said Doyle aimed his kicks at Blume’s head and that the amount of force Doyle used violated the Albuquerque Police Department’s standard operating procedures and was excessive.

Albuquerque police are under a federal investigation over excessive force and possible civil rights violations. The department also has drawn criticism for 37 police shootings since 2010, including the fatal shooting of a homeless man in the Sandia foothills that have sparked protests in the city.

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