Christina Rodriguez & Megan Abundis
Updated: March 06, 2020 10:14 PM
Created: March 06, 2020 01:57 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The family of Elisha Lucero has reached a $4 million settlement after suing the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office for a fatal deputy-involved shooting.
Deputies had killed Lucero in July 2019 when her family had called BCSO for help. She was shot more than 20 times and died at the scene.
The family is donating $200,000 of the settlement to the ACLU of New Mexico to fight for legislation that would require law enforcement across the state to wear body-worn cameras.
Sheriff Manny Gonzales had said Lucero was charging deputies with a large knife before she was shot.
“It's not right that we don't even have dash cameras to prove what happened to my sister that night,” Elaine Maestas, Lucero's sister, had said in a previous interview with KOB 4. “We don't have no lapel video and that's not right. They are here to serve us and there's no reason that they should not have those cameras on them at all times."
Sheriff Manny Gonzales sent KOB 4 the following statement about the settlement:
"BCSO’s commitment is to protecting children and families, and as such, we responded legally and appropriately while in communication with the family to protect the welfare of all involved. Our condolences are with the family for their loss."
A spokesperson with BCSO sent KOB 4 a statement that said they do not admit any fault:
"While the Sheriff’s Department is aware of the settlement and had involvement in the settlement process we are sickened with the amount of the settlement agreement. The Sheriff’s Department does not admit any fault on behalf of the employees involved and holds firm in its belief that our deputies have a right and a duty to protect themselves and others from harm and/or death. Furthermore, the Sheriff and any/all deputies named in the lawsuit were removed prior to the settlement agreement.
We understand that, Although a typical personal injury trial will not last more than a few days, the process can be extremely stressful for everyone involved. The process itself can take years and in some cases decades prior to the actual trial. We also understand that many cases are settled out of court as this case was.
We are represented by New Mexico Association of Counties and we acknowledge that the decision to settle a case like this is something that they do based upon a extreme number of variables.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department is committed to the service and protection of others."
ACLU of New Mexico Legal Director Leon Howard said in a statement that the ALCU is committed to ensuring BCSO implements commonsense policing reforms that will help prevent other needless deaths:
“The death of Elisha Lucero at the hands of BCSO deputies in 2019 was both tragic and preventable. We remain committed to working with Lucero’s family to ensure that BCSO implements commonsense policing reforms that will help prevent other needless deaths moving forward. No one in Bernalillo County should ever fear that calling emergency services for a loved one in crisis will result in that loved one’s death. Furthermore, we believe it is past time for BCSO and other law enforcement agencies statewide to commit to basic transparency and accountability by outfitting their officers with body worn cameras. We look forward to working with Lucero’s family to honor her memory by making this a reality.”
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