Standing on the steps of Albuquerque Police Department headquarters Thursday evening, Veronica Ajanel said calling 911 on her father was “the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.”
An APD officer fatally shot her father, Valente Acosta-Bustillos, on March 30 when, police said, he swung a shovel at them as they tried to arrest him on a warrant. Ajanel had asked police to do a welfare check on Acosta-Bustillos.
“He didn’t deserve to die, not in the way he did,” Ajanel, surrounded by family, said to a large crowd in the street below. “Still, we can’t even believe he’s gone.”
More than 100 protesters gathered Thursday evening as they have several times in recent weeks to speak out against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death. This time, outside APD’s Downtown headquarters, they demanded something closer to home: the firing, arrest and prosecution of the officers who killed Acosta-Bustillos and Orlando Abeyta, 28. Abeyta was shot by APD officers Jan. 6 after, police said, he pointed what turned out to be a BB gun at passengers on a bus on East Central.
Through a microphone, Satya Vatti lamented the lack of action against the officers involved.
“The only time they are arrested, they are fired, they are charged with a crime, is when people like us come into the streets and fight back,” said Vatti, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
An APD spokesman said on Thursday the investigations into both shootings found the lethal force was “within policy.” The spokesman also re-released summaries of the incidents.
That didn’t quiet the voices of those outside APD headquarters, amid the sweltering heat, hoisting signs that said “jail killer cops,” and “justice for Valente.”
From there, the group chanted and marched to the home of Acosta-Bustillos as the sun set low and police vehicles kept their distance but quietly cleared the way for the procession.