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Family of man killed by deputies awarded $1.5 million

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The family of an elderly man who died after Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies fired a pepperball gun at him dozens of times was awarded nearly $1.5 million.

Fidencio Duran

The civil case against the county was settled last summer, but Shannon Kennedy, an attorney representing the family, didn’t disclose the terms of the settlement. The county provided the Journal with the settlement documents, showing a one-time payment of $1,495,000, in response to an Inspection of Public Records Act request.

Fidencio Duran, 88, died after he was shot numerous times with a pepperball gun after he encountered deputies in the South Valley, where he had been wandering distraught after the death of his wife the day prior.

Though the settlement ends the lawsuit against the county, the Duran family is considering a case against the manufacturer of the pepperball gun, Kennedy has said.

The weapon shouldn’t be used against the elderly, children or pregnant women, she said, and it’s not clear how much training the manufacturer provides departments who use it. She has filed a complaint in state District Court in Santa Fe seeking damages and the release of all pepperball training materials, and correspondence between the company that provided the pepperball guns and the state Department of Public Safety, according to the complaint.

Pepperball guns shoot a stinging chemical ball and are considered a less-lethal weapon.

Deputy Felicia Maggard, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, declined to comment on the settlement amount. She said the pepperball program is under review for logistical reasons not related to the Duran case.

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