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Panel: Officer was justified in 2010 shooting

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Police Oversight Commission on Thursday ruled that an officer-involved shooting that left a mentally disabled man without part of his kidney and intestines was justified.

The commission voted 6-1, with one abstention, to rule the shooting of Russell Tenorio in November 2010 as justified. Several commissioners appeared to reconsider their views as the debate progressed.

“My own mind has changed throughout the course of this discussion,” said David Cameron, the POC’s newly elected chairman. “… I still regret that it happened as it did, but I can’t honestly think of any other way that (officers) might have done it.”

In early November 2010, four officers arrived at Tenorio’s home in the 1400 block of Alamo SE in response to a drunken, suicidal man with a knife to his neck. An officer shot Tenorio within a matter of seconds after entering his house, and one officer Tasered him a moment after he was shot.

The panel’s ruling comes three months after Tenorio’s attorneys filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Albuquerque Police Department that alleges, in part, excessive force.

Commissioner Jonathan Siegel, the lone dissenter, said he was concerned that four officers rushed into the 16-foot by 20-foot home and did not give enough time for Tenorio, who has fetal alcohol syndrome, to comply with commands.

Initially, several commissioners questioned the city’s Independent Review Officer, Robin Hammer, and Albuquerque police Sgt. Liz Thompson about whether officers could have immediately tried to calm Tenorio down before opening fire.

Two of the four officers who stormed into Tenorio’s house had specialized de-escalation, or Crisis Intervention training, and carried less-than-lethal weapons, including a Taser and beanbag shotgun.

However, commissioner Richard Shine later argued that officers had to act quickly since family members were inside the home alongside Tenorio, so the officers had a responsibility to guarantee the potential hostages’ safety.

Once Shine raised that point, it appeared that the undecided commissioners opted to side in favor of the Independent Review Officer, who had ruled to exonerate the officer.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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