ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An attorney for the family of a man shot and killed in a U.S. Marshals operation on Saturday claims the 23-year-old was shot in the back at point-blank range when federal authorities arrived at the wrong address.
Attorney Robert Gorence said in a news conference Tuesday afternoon that Edgar Camacho-Alvarado was shot four times in the back, and he called on federal officials to immediately release more information about the shooting.
He said a tort claims notice will be filed by the end of the week and that a legal team representing the family has launched its own investigation into the shooting.
“It’s almost inexplicable, but we have evidence … that Edgar was dragged from the house, after having been struck multiple times, taken outside, given commands to give up a weapon, as he’s gurgling and flailing his arms, and shot a fourth time,” Gorence said. “Almost what you would call ‘execution style.’ ”
Gorence said multiple eyewitnesses, including Camacho-Alvarado’s mother, have said marshals dragged Camacho-Alvarado from the house after shooting him multiple times and then shot him in the back for the fourth time while he was on the ground and unable to respond to commands.
Deputies with the U.S. Marshals Service were trying to execute an arrest warrant on homicide suspect George Bond, 25, at a West Central trailer park near 75th and Central before dawn Saturday.
Bond, who was facing a state murder charge out of Valencia County, ended up being arrested 14 hours later outside trailer No. 29 after a lengthy SWAT standoff. The Alvarado family lived in the nearby trailer No. 26.
New Mexico State Police, which is leading the investigation into the shooting, and other agencies have shed little light on how Camacho-Alvarado ended up being shot when officers were actually searching for Bond. They have not described what happened, commented on the family’s account of the shooting nor said whether Camacho-Alvarado had a gun.
U.S. marshals often work alongside members of local law enforcement agencies who are part of the marshals’ task force when executing warrants. It’s not clear which agencies were present during the shooting. Albuquerque police have said none of its officers was there when the shooting happened.
Camacho-Alvarado’s mother and stepfather appeared at the news conference with Gorence and attorneys Louren Oliveros and Jason Bowles.
“When you do things in the middle of the night,” Gorence said, “and go to the wrong address, when you don’t know the individual’s name or have a picture of the person you are looking for, is it any surprise you have catastrophic and horrific outcomes?”
“At 3:30 in the morning, when you go to the wrong place in a lock-and-load mentality, it’s kind of easy to see what happens,” he said.
Gorence said in a letter sent Tuesday to Damon Martinez, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico, that by the end of the week he will file a federal tort claims notice – indicating an intent to file a lawsuit – over the shooting. He asked Martinez to immediately release investigative reports on the shooting, about which authorities have so far refused to provide details.
“All we’re asking right now is to get answers,” Gorence said. “So far that has been completely stonewalled.”
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday evening that the office received the letter, but she declined to comment.
Gorence said his firm’s investigation into the shooting will include an independent autopsy. The Office of the Medical Investigator is also investigating the death, but the office’s reports won’t be made public for months.
Gorence said his firm will be providing weekly updates on its investigation. He stressed that Camacho-Alvarado’s family wants answers about what happened, and he called on members of the public who may have information on the case to come forward and speak with the family’s legal team.
“We feel powerless,” said Adan Cano, Camacho-Alvarado’s stepfather.
Sgt. Chad Pierce, a State Police spokesman, said the agency won’t comment on specifics until the investigation has been completed and submitted to the District Attorney’s Office, which will decide if charges will be filed.
“We’ll just have to wait for the investigation to see if it’s what the family’s account is or if something else transpired,” he said.
He said there’s no time frame for when the investigation will be completed.
New Mexico State Police have only said U.S. marshals shot Camacho-Alvarado after a “confrontation.”
Camacho-Alvarado’s family said he was working on his vehicle before shots were fired.
Gorence said he was trying to determine whether Camacho-Alvarado had an arrest warrant at the time he was killed. At one point in 2014, it appears from court records that bench warrants were issued for probation violations in two nonviolent larceny cases against him.
Journal staff writer Nicole Perez contributed to this report.