DA won't prosecute park ranger in shooting - Albuquerque Journal

DA won’t prosecute park ranger in shooting

The attorney for the family of a Colorado man fatally shot by a U.S. National Park Service ranger in New Mexico said she was disappointed with a district attorney decision to not pursue criminal charges against the ranger.

Civil rights lawyer Shannon Kennedy said Charles “Gage” Lorentz’s parents Kimberly Beck and Travis Lorentz were disappointed, and that the district attorney had omitted “some key factors” when explaining the decision.

“Legally and factually there is evidence that the ranger acted in a manner that was objectively unreasonable and unconstitutional,” Kennedy said. “We believe we can prove that at trial and we believe that what happened to Gage Lorentz is more than a tragedy, it’s a crime.”

Fifth Judicial District Attorney Dianna Luce announced last week that the actions of Park Ranger Robert Mitchell were “objectively justifiable” during a traffic stop at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Mitchell stopped Lorentz for erratic driving March 21.

A video showed a struggle ensued between the two and Mitchell deployed his stun gun, which failed to subdue Lorentz. Mitchell then can be seen firing his service weapon twice.

“We were able to determine from the Eddy County sheriff’s office that Mr. Lorentz has his arm around the neck of Park Ranger Mitchell during the struggle,” Luce told KOB-TV.

Lorentz was traveling from Texas back to his home in Colorado when he stopped in Carlsbad to meet a friend.

Kennedy filed a wrongful death claim against the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Interior in June. She said the federal government has six months to respond to the lawsuit.

As of Aug. 6, no response was filed, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.

National Park Service spokeswoman Vanessa Lacayo said the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico is investigating. Lacayo also said Mitchell has been on administrative duty since the shooting, in accordance with department policy.

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