U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is asking a federal law enforcement agency why its agents decided not to arrest Davon Lymon after purchasing heroin and a firearm from him weeks before he allegedly fatally shot an Albuquerque police officer.
In a letter dated Thursday to the federal bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Lujan Grisham, an Albuquerque-based Democrat, described the sequence of events leading to the shooting death of APD officer Daniel Webster as a “disturbing incident.”
Lymon, 35, was a convicted killer at the time he allegedly sold $6,500 worth of heroin and firearms to undercover ATF agents last fall. Since his release from prison in 2011, Lymon had been arrested on suspicion of two separate violent crimes. But he was allowed to remain on the streets after the alleged undercover sales to the ATF agents.
It is not clear how much Webster knew about Lymon at the time he stopped him driving a suspected stolen motorcycle along Central Avenue on Oct. 21.
“I understand that it takes time to build a case on suspected criminals, however I am sure that you can understand the community’s concern that Lymon was not arrested sooner, especially considering his violent history and the threat he posed to the public,” Lujan Grisham wrote to ATF Deputy Director Thomas E. Brandon.
In the letter, the congresswoman asked Brandon a series of questions:
- Whether ATF shares information about its undercover operations with state and local law enforcement agencies;
- Whether the bureau has written guidelines for when to arrest suspected criminals targeted in such operations and to share those documents;
- And whether the potential dangerousness of a suspect factors into that decision.
Lujan Grisham’s questions are among the same ones New Mexico In Depth has been asking of ATF since late January. That’s when the undercover operation first became public — in a motion Lymon’s attorneys filed in federal court asking that a slew of charges against him be considered separately.
ATF spokesman Thomas Mangan has refused to answer questions about the operation that targeted Lymon. He directed NMID to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which has not responded to inquiries. Through a spokeswoman, U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez last month refused an interview request.
Lujan Grisham sits on the House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform, which four years ago investigated ATF’s botched “Fast and Furious” operation. In Fast and Furious, ATF agents in Phoenix allowed hundreds of black-market guns to “walk” into Mexico with the intention of tracking the firearms to criminals and drug cartel members. But the agents lost track of many of the guns, and one of them was found at the scene where U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in 2010.
ATF’s Albuquerque office operates under the supervision of the bureau’s Phoenix division.