ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A member of the Police Oversight Commission said at the panel’s meeting last week that he was “concerned about the sequence of events” that resulted in the POC’s decision to rule a controversial police shooting as justified almost two years ago.
The commissioner, Richard Shine, also wondered aloud during the Feb. 21 meeting whether the POC could revisit the case, in light of a district judge’s recent ruling in a subsequent civil suit. District Judge Shannon Bacon ruled Feb. 20 that Albuquerque police Detective Brett Lampiris-Tremba violated the U.S. Constitution when he shot and killed Kenneth Ellis III in January 2010.
In April 2011, the POC overturned the findings of then-Independent Review Officer William Deaton, who also said the shooting was unjustified. Police Chief Ray Schultz agreed with the POC, and Lampiris-Tremba was never disciplined.
Shine said last week that – since six commissioners have left the board since the POC ruled on the shooting – he wishes to know more about the deliberations that resulted in the shooting eventually being deemed justified.
“I must say that I am concerned about the fact that a judge has ruled as a matter of law that it’s a bad shooting,” Shine said. “And I don’t have any understanding about how the commission did not follow the recommendation of the then-IRO Judge Deaton.”
Reached in his office Wednesday, Shine declined to comment further about what exactly he’s looking for should the POC reconsider the ruling.
Shine also proposed at the meeting that the issue of whether the commission can revisit the shooting be taken up at the POC’s meeting in a month. Assistant city attorney John DuBois said Wednesday that he is “currently researching” the issue, and nothing in the commission’s rules and regulations appears to prohibit the commission from reconsidering cases on which it has already ruled.
Ellis’ father, Kenneth Ellis Jr., told the commission during the public comment portion that Bacon’s ruling served as proof that the commission fails to hold APD officers accountable.
“This panel is worthless. You have no teeth,” Ellis said. “You’re up here with a rubber stamp.”
Ultimately, Ellis said, the judge’s ruling makes the commission irrelevant.
“It’s above you guys now,” Ellis told the commission.
On Jan. 13, 2010, Ellis was shot in the neck outside a convenience store on Eubank and Constitution NE as he slowly paced with a gun to his head.
More than 10 months later, an “investigative grand jury” without the power to indict ruled that the shooting was justified under New Mexico law.
The Police Oversight Commission is a nine-member panel that reviews complaints against police officers as well as police shootings.
The Independent Review Office is the POC’s investigative arm that presents its findings to the POC. The POC then rules and forwards its recommendation onto the Chief of Police, who has the final say in officer discipline.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal