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Families Thankful For Inquiry Into Shootings

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As they have so many times before, the family members of young men shot and killed by Albuquerque police walked up to the podium on Monday and took turns testifying before the City Council.

But this time, many said they had something to be thankful for β€” the federal investigation into whether APD has a pattern of violating people’s civil rights. The U.S. Department of Justice announced the inquiry last week.

Mike Gomez carried a sign in honor of his son Alan, who was shot and killed by officers. He thanked city councilors who requested a federal investigation.

The people in charge of APD “never said, β€˜The buck stops here,'” he told councilors, and an outside investigation will help.

Ralph Arellanes, president of the New Mexico chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said he and others spoke to federal executives directly about the situation in Albuquerque.

“The will of the people will always be stronger than the will of self-serving elected officials,” he said.

The testimony on police shootings came during the public comment period of Monday’s council meeting. Anyone can sign up to speak to the council for about two minutes.

In this case, about a dozen activists and family members addressed the council about police shootings. They have appeared at meetings regularly for well over a year, though Monday’s crowd was a little larger than usual.

City councilors and members of Mayor Richard Berry’s administration listened to the testimony, but didn’t offer any public comments of their own. Berry and Police Chief Ray Schultz have pledged to cooperate with the investigation.

Kenneth Ellis, whose son was shot by police, said the conduct of local police “is very, very disturbing. They have disrespected our constitutional rights.”

He added that there are many honorable officers, too.

Silvio Dell’Angela, whose neighbor was shot by officers, told councilors the “police oversight process is a disgrace.”

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said last week the department will “peel the onion to its core” in examining Albuquerque police.

The civil and criminal probes follow a highly publicized rash of police shootings in Albuquerque β€” 25 since 2010, 17 of them fatal β€” and a series of other questionable use of force incidents, some of which have been caught on camera.

The council last year narrowly adopted a resolution requesting a federal investigation, but Berry vetoed it, citing concerns over whether its consideration had violated the Open Meetings Act.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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