Updated: January 22, 2021 06:13 PM
Created: January 22, 2021 04:52 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- A new lawsuit blames a city ordinance for officers not acting sooner, potentially preventing the murder of Jacqueline Vigil.
“I feel like my wife today could be alive if they would have acted on so much evidence they had against this individual and turned him in to immigration,” said Sam Vigil, Jacqueline's husband. “I think my wife would be talking to me today.”
A new lawsuit blames the City of Albuquerque for a tragedy it says could have been prevented.
The main suspect in Jacqueline's murder, Luis Talamantes-Romero, was a known criminal who was in this country illegally. He has a lengthy criminal history.
According to the lawsuit, Talamantes-Romero had been deported but came back to the U.S. a few months before Vigil's murder. He was identified as a suspect in a robbery.
“That alone should have triggered a phone call, or an email to federal law enforcement even if APD needed more time to perfect their investigation all they had to do was ‘he’s back’ that’s all it would have took,” said attorney Robert Gorence, who is one of the lawyers representing Sam Vigil. “It never happened because of a city policy.”
Robert Gorence and Jason Bowles are representing Sam Vigil in a lawsuit, taking aim at that city policy that declared Albuquerque a Sanctuary City in 2018. It essentially protects the immigration status of someone living here.
They believe that’s why federal authorities were not notified Talamantes-Romero was back in Albuquerque.
City Attorney Esteban Aguilar Jr. said in a statement: "There is no city ordinance that prevents local law enforcement or the federal government from arresting violent felons, immigrant or otherwise."
But both Gorence and Bowles are former federal prosecutors. They said prior to that policy, cooperation between agencies was common.
“That information from local law enforcement often led to arrests, often led to deportation and made the community safer,” said Bowles.
A spokesperson for APD sent a statement:
“Our hearts have always gone out to the Vigil family, and our officers and detectives worked with law enforcement partners to bring justice in this case. Police work hard to investigate violent crime which is what they have done in this case.”
The city, the mayor and an APD officer are all named in the lawsuit. Vigil said the goal is ultimately to tweak the ordinance they believe is overly broad. He said cooperation between law enforcement and the feds could be life-saving.
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