SANTA FE – An Albuquerque attorney last week filed a wrongful death suit alleging that “systemic failures” by police agencies and prosecutors helped lead to the death of Jeremiah Valencia, the 13-year-old boy whose body was found stuffed in a plastic container and buried down the road from where his family group was living in Nambé.
The boy’s estate and the guardian for Jeremiah’s little sister are plaintiffs in the case that names as defendants the Santa Fe County Commission, the county Sheriff’s Department, the city of Santa Fe and two of its police officers and District Attorney Marco Serna and Deputy D.A. Michael Nunez.
“This case presents a tragedy that resulted from a toxic blend of apathy, understaffing, negligent operation of a building and equipment, bad police training and supervision, investigation and follow-up, and systemic failures by agencies whose purpose is to provide public safety,” says the lawsuit filed by attorney Frances Carpenter.
Jeremiah died in November 2017 while his mother was in jail and he was in the care of his mother’s boyfriend, Thomas Ferguson, and his 19-year old son, Jordan Nunez. The lawsuit notes the alleged abuse that police have said the boy suffered in the weeks prior to his death, including being beaten with brass knuckles and a five-pound hammer, lifted upside down and dropped on his head, poked with a spear, deprived of food, kept locked in a dog crate, and being urinated on by Ferguson.
The autopsy revealed that Jeremiah had multiple jaw fractures, a fractured hand, an eye partially displaced from its socket, and methamphetamine in his system.
Ferguson committed suicide while being held in jail on murder charges. Nunez, who is charged with numerous counts of child abuse and tampering with evidence, is in jail awaiting trial. Prosecutors now say Nunez delivered the fatal blow when he was flipping over the dog crate that Jeremiah was locked in.