Lawsuit: Man was shot in the head by Albuquerque police officer after call for help

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There’s a new lawsuit after an Albuquerque Police Department shooting. It started with a call for help. A couple called APD in June 2020 while their adult son was suffering a mental health crisis.

But that day, an attorney representing the family said, Max Mitnik did not get the help he needed. Instead, he was shot twice.

Mitnik survived but will have lifelong injuries. Now he and his family are suing the City of Albuquerque and the officer who shot him, saying it never should have happened.

The lawsuit was filed Jan. 6 in District Court. The goal is really to make sure what happened to Mitnik doesn’t happen to another family.

When his family called for help in June 2020, they believe the city should have had a non-law enforcement response. An attorney for the family said Mitnik wasn’t dangerous and he wasn’t committing a crime.

Now they want change.

“He’s still recovering,” said Ryan Villa, an attorney representing the family. “He’s still going through physical therapy, occupational therapy. His life will never been the same.”

The lawsuit alleges the shooting was unnecessary.

“This was the first interaction. He had never had any law enforcement contacts, had never had any problems, criminal charges,” said Villa. “This was the first time he interacted with police.”

Lapel video captured that day shows Albuquerque police responding to their Tanoan neighborhood in June 2020. Mitnik’s parents called police saying their son was schizophrenic and experiencing a mental health crisis. They did also warn that Mitnik was worried he would hurt his parents.

The goal was to get him to the hospital.

Several times throughout the interaction Mitnik refused to go to the hospitals with officers. Eventually, documents say he grabbed a knife and went to the bathroom.

Albuquerque police said when he came out of the bathroom, Mitnik raised this knife as he walked toward the officer. APD said the officer felt he was going to be cut and killed. Mitnik was shot twice.

“The gambit of those emotions. I mean initially the guilt because yeah, they thought they were just going to get help,” said Villa. “The frustration and anger about what happened and the trauma. His mother was standing right next to him when he was shot in the head.”

KOB 4 reached out to the city as well as APD – officials said they have not been served and they will respond to those allegations in court.

To read the lawsuit, click here.