Updated: January 14, 2020 06:09 PM
Created: January 14, 2020 05:06 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The family of Elisha Lucero is suing the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies killed Lucero in July 2019.
Lucero was in the middle of a mental health crisis, and her family called BCSO for help.
The lawsuit alleges deputies escalated the tense situation when they showed up.
According to audio from BCSO, a deputy could be heard asking Elisha to come out of her home.
“Can you get dressed so you can come out and talk to us please,” the deputy said. “OK, I need you to get dressed and come out and talk to us.”
Moments after Elisha came out, deputies could be heard telling the woman to “get down” before shots were fired.
Lucero was shot more than 20 times, and died at the scene.
“This has to stop,” said Shannon Kennedy, the family’s attorney. “And hopefully with this case, we can confront the sheriff with his own depraved approach to policing.”
The lawsuit reveals Lucero's history of mental illness began in 2017 when doctors discovered she had a brain tumor.
Soon after the surgery to remove the tumor, her family noticed a dramatic difference in her behavior.
“The brain tumor that was in the back part of her brain had to be removed, and after the removal of the brain tumor is when the symptomology of talking to herself, hallucinations and psychosis began,” Kennedy said.
One month before she was killed, Lucero called BCSO for help with her mental health.
One of the deputies who fired at Lucero was there that day.
In a taped interview, he said he knew Lucero had mental health needs.
“I dealt with this female once previously a couple months ago,” the deputy said. “I knew she had mental illness on that one time I contacted her.”
The lawsuit alleges that deputies never called for a crisis intervention specialist despite at least one deputy knowing Lucero had mental health issues.
A multi-agency task force has not determined whether the shooting was justified.
“Screaming, described by one of our deputies, in a primal voice and (she) was armed with a large knife,” Gonzales said.
Kennedy and Lucero's family believe the sheriff has created a culture where deputies aren't properly trained.
She points to a 2018 audit, paid for by the county, to review BCSO’s use of force policies.
The law group that conducted the audit found 22 areas that were outdated or out of line with policing standards. Since then, the sheriff has not made any changes to his policies.
“He is deliberately ignorant,” Kennedy said. “He has an audit that is a roadmap with 22 suggestions for changes to make our community safer and he withholds that knowledge from his deputies. “He is deliberately ignorant of national standards that could save lives. “
A BCSO spokesperson did not want to comment on the pending litigation.
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