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City ordered to pay $6M in APD wrongful death lawsuit

Updated: 06/10/2014 6:47 PM | Created: 06/10/2014 12:31 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A district court judge said two Albuquerque Police Department officers committed battery when they pinned down and shot 27-year-old Christopher Torres in 2011.

The judge awarded his family $6 million dollars, though an attorney for the family says because of a cap through the Tort Claims Act, they can only receive $400,000 immediately. The rest of the judgment will have to wait until after a federal civil rights trial, which begins on September 15.

The family of Christopher Torres says they feel vindicated by the ruling, but they still want to see discipline for Detectives Richard Hilger and CJ Brown.

"He was kind, he was just the kindest person you ever want to meet and I think that this ruling by Judge Bacon has actually set the record straight and Christopher's name and record is clean," Renetta Torres, mother of Christopher Torres, said.

The family says they feel vindicated by Judge Shannon Bacon's ruling that the detectives who killed Torres committed battery.

The judge also wrote that "Detectives Brown and Hilger's testimony is inconsistent with the eyewitness's testimony and the physical evidence," and said evidence showed no prints from Torres on Hilger's gun. Earlier reports said Torres went for it as the detectives tried to serve an arrest warrant.

"He couldn't have. First of all he didn't know where the gun was, he was lying on his stomach, how is he gonna reach back and grab this officer's gun out of his holster? It's not a credible story," Steve Torres, father of Christopher Torres, said.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney's office found the detectives' actions justified in February 2014 and say they have no immediate plans to reopen the case. Brown and Hilger are still on full-time active duty.

The Torres family says they feel APD has work to do, and it will take the Department of Justice for them to do it.

"An assortment of what seems to be very cosmetic changes, I think meant to appease us and hopefully we'll be satisfied and we'll stop the quest. Well, we've only just begun – and the DOJ and the judicial system, I think is where the answer lies," Renetta Torres said.

The findings don't blame the city for hiring or training the officers, just the officers themselves. State law caps legal pay-outs so the family can only get $400,000 immediately. They could get the full $6 million or more if they are successful in their federal civil rights trial, set to begin in September.

Christopher Torres, 27.

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