Created: 03/27/2014 6:20 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Some words of hope for the troubled Albuquerque Police Department from an unexpected source – a woman whose own brother was shot to death by police in a shooting that was later ruled unjustified and unlawful.
You hear it in restaurants, neighborhood bars, barbershops and beauty parlors – any place people strike up conversations. A lot of us in this city aren’t sure we trust our police department any more, in the aftermath of the shooting of a homeless man during a standoff in the Sandia foothills. Jonelle Ellis has more reason than most to mistrust APD, but she says it doesn’t have to be that way.
Back in January of 2010 an APD officer shot and killed her brother Kenneth Ellis in front of a convenience store at Eubank and Constitution. The Iraq war veteran, suffering from PTSD, held a gun to his own head and refused to drop it. A judge ruled the shooting unlawful, and the city settled with the Ellis family for almost $8 million.
“I’m an optimist, so I do believe that we can restore the faith of the community in APD,” Ellis said. “It’s going to take a lot of time just as it took all this time to lose the trust in APD. It’s going to take time to regain that trust.”
Ellis is one of the community activists who met behind closed doors with U.S. Department of Justice officials to discuss APD’s problems and its future – a future Ellis believes in.
“I think with good leadership, with time, with integrity and a moral compass, that the community will trust APD and call them when they need help,” Ellis said. “But it’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of practice and a lot of evidence that they can do the job.”
Kenneth Ellis was 25 when he was killed. In a KOB Eyewitness News 4 interview earlier this year, Kenneth and Jonelle’s father pointed out that Kenneth had survived roadside bomb explosions in Iraq, only to die on the roadside in his own hometown – cut down by a bullet from a policeman’s gun.