The final months of 2014 saw numerous headlines from across the United States featuring instances of law enforcement not being held accountable for acting beyond their responsibilities or legal duities. As a result, countless thousands of people have taken to the streets in mass protests, citing rampant police brutality and civil rights violations as the reasons. With so many examples of police getting away—literally—with murder, it is encouraging to hear that two New Mexico police officers will be facing charges for the shooting death of a homeless camper.
Albuquerque Case Highlights Need for More Accountability
In April 2014, the United States Justice Department investigated the Albuquerque Police Department amidst reports of fatal confrontations. The Justice Department determined that a pattern of excessive force by officers was found. In light of this and incidents nationwide, Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg filed documents for an open murder charge against Officer Dominique Perez and Detective Keith Sandy regarding the death of a homeless man on March 16.
In a standoff that was caught on camera, a homeless man camping in the Sandia Foothills was approached by police for illegal camping. The man was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and brandished two small knives at police during a four-hour standoff. At the end of the confrontation, he seems slow to comply with demands to leave the area and a flash-bang grenade is thrown at his feet as a dog is released that attacks the man. He withdraws what appears to be knives from his pockets and turns away from police, who shoot six bullets at him. His last words on the recording were begging the police not to hurt him since he was unable to move. Evidence of intent on the part of the officers to harm the man ahead of the incident includes a recording in whcih Sandy can be heard saying “For this f***ing lunatic? I’m going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second.”
Since 2010, police in Albuquerque have shot 41 different people, killing 28. In November, federal officials announced sweeping reforms of the department to change how officers utilize force. Brandenburg is using a transparent process to hold the officers accountable for their actions.
With investigations into police departments and the methods they use to subdue civilians underway, it should be important to recognize that police can be held accountable when they break the way. If you or a loved one has suffered brutality, excessive use of force, or a civil rights violation at the hands of law enforcement, you can file a Section 1983 claim with the help of a civil rights/police brutality attorney.
The Law Office of James Dunn can help if you have been subjected to police brutality. Read our website for more information and contact our firm to get started on a claim against the law enforcement that wronged you.