New Mexico Police Corruption Series: APD Officer Matt Griffin aka The Ninja Bandit Part 2

I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again – I HATE POLICE CORRUPTION.

While researching a couple of New Mexico cases, I discovered a significant amount of corruption and cover-ups in the Albuquerque New Mexico police department, beginning at least 30 years ago and may be currently going on as I write this. Many victims of homicide have never received justice because their killers were protected. In addition, several people turned up missing during this reign of crap and certain officers within the APD are either responsible OR know who is and refused to do their jobs as cops. The latter is partly true for the fact that some of these cops were into the drug trafficking business and protected the perpetrators.

Because of what I learned, I am currently writing a series of posts about corrupt cases that occurred in New Mexico. I started with Linda Daniels. There are so many victims who were betrayed by the people who were supposed to serve and protect them that it is just ridiculous.

While the majority of posts will be cases out of Albuquerque, I will have some from other areas of New Mexico.

Yesterday’s post, Part 1 on APD Officer Matt Griffin, left off with the January 19, 1989 First Interstate Bank robbery. Today’s post discusses a murder involving Griffin. 

On January 27, 1989, small town drug dealer Peter Klunck, 26, was shot to death in Albuquerue by APD police officers Matt Griffin, Robert Valtierra and Paul Heatley. They claimed they shot Peter in the chest in self-defense. In reality, Peter was shot THREE times in the BACK.

The trio claimed that Peter pulled out a gun after a 10-minute car chase, so the officers fired back.

The reason for the car chase is unclear. All I read was that Peter was a probation violator.

It takes THREE cops to go after a probation violator?

Peter had been involved in criminal activities with Griffin, which included, according to a statement to the F.B.I. by a police officer, pushing speed for Griffin. In October 1988, Griffin demanded Peter steal a car for him. He was going to use this car as a getaway vehicle in another bank robbery. However, Peter refused as he was trying to finally turn his life around. But this caused Peter to fear for his life. He knew how corrupt Griffin was and what the police officer was capable of doing.

On the day he was killed, Peter was scheduled for a court appearance in which he planned to “blow the lid off APD.” Peter told this to his parents but did not go into more detail because of the huge risk associated with ratting cops out.

The officers at the scene of the shooting gave conflicting statements.

Valtierra claimed Peter had a gun in his left hand, yet Heatley said he clearly saw a gun in Peter’s right hand. 

Griffin refused to give a statement AT ALL, even though two of his bullets were defined as the ones that killed Peter.

Officer Steve Nakamura, also at the scene, told his sergeant just minutes after the shooting, “These guys (Griffin, Valtierra and Heatley) shot him in the back, and I don’t know why!”

Nakamura went on to say that Peter followed all instructions given to him by the officers and didn’t make a single threatening gesture of any kind. Two other officers (names unknown) backed him up on that. Because of his continued insistence that he didn’t see Peter with a gun, Nakamura’s supervisors ordered him to undergo psychological testing.

Yeah, because you would so do that when an officer is POSITIVE of what he saw. I can see why they thought he was mental. NOT.

Heatley told Internal Affairs that he didn’t fire at Peter until after he’d already been “dropped.” Peter was struggling to get up on his hands and knees when Heatley supposedly saw a gun in Peter’s hand and shot him under the armpit. Peter fell on his face. 

Huh? I thought Peter started firing right after he got out of the car? If you’re going to lie, at least keep your damn stories straight.

But somehow the gun mysteriously vanished because miraculously, after a SEVEN hour search by APD, a .38-calibur derringer turned up 15 FEET from Peter’s body. Yet, Peter’s fingerprints were NOT on it. One of the very few honest cops on the police force called the Attorney General’s office and told them that the derringer was actually an alibi gun planted at the scene by the cops to support Griffin’s lame-ass self-defense claim. That cop also said that APD intended to cover the whole thing up, however, the coroner’s office leaked (oops) the information that Peter was shot in the BACK, not the chest, so there went that plan.

Former Chief Justice Rheardon, who conducted the Internal Affairs investigation, stated in his report, “I believe there is a question about whether Mr. Klunck was armed at the time he was shot and, even if he was, whether it was necessary to shoot him.” 

APD Chief Baca then issued an official statement that the Internal Affairs investigator had concluded that the shooting was justified. All three officers were never arrested. 

Let me get this straight. Peter just happened to be shot on the day he was going to rat certain cops out. And SUPPOSEDLY, Griffin shot him in the chest in self-defense, even though evidence does not support this theory. Peter had a gun in his hand when he was shot, yet the gun was found 15 feet from his body WITHOUT any of his fingerprints on it.

Yeah, ok, and I just happen to be a member of the Royal family. 

And speaking of the gun…if Peter had the gun in his hand like Valtierra and Heatley claimed, there would have been no need for a SEARCH for the gun to begin with because it should’ve been right next to Peter on the ground where he was shot. Of course, who can believe it took them SEVEN hours to find a gun laying only 15 feet from Peter’s body anyway? 

When asked by a reporter why it took so long to find the gun, Police Chief Sam Baca replied, “Very rarely do we go to immediately look for the gun.”

And it’s not suspicious at all, that Griffin REFUSED to give a statement at the scene of the shooting. Why would he do that?

Next Part 3 


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Author: truecrimediva

True crime blogger