ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — [galleryfader ids=”326762,332363,75651,332530,332607,339678″]
Between 2010 and March of this year, the city paid out $23 million in excessive force and wrongful death lawsuits filed against the Albuquerque Police Department. And it’s going up.
That number includes the $10.3 million initial judgment at trial in a wrongful death suit over the shooting of Kenneth Ellis II, an Iraq war veteran with mental health issues, fatally shot in 2010. A judge found liability, leaving it to a jury to decide the amount of damages. After the verdict, a settlement was reached for $8.3 million, including legal costs, though a judge must approve it before it can be paid.
Some cases in the court pipeline are likely to result in payments, such as the shooting of Christopher Torres, an unarmed man sitting alone in his backyard when plainclothes officers jumped a fence. A confused Torres told them he’d done nothing wrong and in the ensuing struggle he was killed.
The 2011 fatal shooting of Alan Gomez, a 22-year-old man who was holding a black plastic spoon when he emerged from a house, was settled early this year for a $900,000 payment to the family, but the case cost the city $1.04 million including fees and costs. Gomez had been holding his brother and the brother’s girlfriend hostage, police said, and he came outside after 45 minutes of negotiations at the scene.