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Lawsuit filed in BCSO shooting

Elisha Lucero

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A wrongful death lawsuit filed Monday says the sheriff has cultivated a culture of aggression among his deputies that condones “depraved behavior” and the use of force against people who are mentally disabled. Too few deputies are trained to interact with people dealing with mental health problems. And, as a result, deputies antagonize suspects, create dangerous situations and then use force unnecessarily.

Filed in state District Court on Monday, the suit alleges the July fatal shooting of 28-year-old Elisha Lucero by Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputies exemplifies these and other “failures” within the agency.

“This family is so devastated, and really the purpose of this litigation is to try to make our community safer for those families who have someone who is suffering from a mental health disability,” said attorney Shannon Kennedy, who filed the suit on behalf of Lucero’s estate. “What are they supposed to do? Do not call BCSO.”

In a statement, a spokesman for BCSO said the office “remains committed to protecting our children, families and businesses; however it would be inappropriate to comment on any pending litigation.”

Lucero, 4-foot-11, was half-naked when she ran into a South Valley street and was fatally shot.

“The deputies shot and killed Ms. Lucero when she posed no threat of deadly force,” the suit says.

BCSO has said that Lucero had a kitchen knife, and a knife was tagged into evidence; however, the lawsuit asserts she was unarmed.

According to the suit, Lucero underwent surgery in June 2018 to remove a brain tumor. After that, Kennedy said, she had seizures and occasionally suffered symptoms of psychosis.

In June, Lucero called for help and asked to be taken to a hospital. A deputy and a social worker took her for an emergency mental health evaluation.

A month later, on July 21, deputies were called to the home when Lucero hit her uncle. Her family told BCSO that she was unarmed and suffered psychosis. They asked deputies to remove her from her RV because they were worried about her odd and aggressive behavior.

One deputy said he saw Lucero in the RV with a large stick, another said he saw her filming deputies with her cellphone while holding a pair of scissors. At some point, Lucero ran out of the RV and into the street. The lawsuit says one deputy described hearing a Taser, followed by Lucero’s screams and, finally, a gunshot.

Three deputies opened fire.

“As she lay dying, no deputy rendered emergency medical care,” the lawsuit alleges.

The plaintiff asks the court to award compensatory damages.

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