4 Investigates: Family asks for reform in LCPD shooting lawsuit

4 Investigates: Family of woman killed by Las Cruces police awaits justice

A week ago, the chief prosecutor in Las Cruces charged a police officer there with murder for allegedly shooting Terry Gomez in October. It's the latest in a series of deadly encounters between those who live in Las Cruces and those who are sworn to protect the community. That is something that is on the mind of Johny Gomez, the son of Terry Gomez.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The family of a woman killed by a Las Cruces police officer as she tried to flee a profanity-filled encounter with him has amended their civil lawsuit, asking for damages and a series of department-wide reforms.

Prosecutors charged Officer Felipe Hernandez with second-degree murder for the October 3 shooting of Terry Gomez. The 45-year-old was sitting in a car outside a public housing complex before sunrise when Hernandez approached. Gomez said she was searching for her keys.

Hernandez recognized a passenger – Jesus Garcia – as someone who’d been ordered by a judge to stay away from the complex, but focused his attention almost entirely on Gomez. 

“So let’s not make this [f-ing] difficult because I will really, really make your life a living hell. Do you hear me?” Hernandez said after Gomez refused to identify herself. Gomez said she didn’t realize Garcia had been banned and asked repeatedly to leave.

Hernandez shot her in the neck as she tried to pull away, her door open as she backed up and then started forward.

Gomez’s oldest son, Johny, told 4 Investigates the encounter has changed his view of Las Cruces.

“You know, we hear all of these things happening in big cities and it happens right here in our town…it’s…it makes you think a lot more about how serious we need to take these concerns,” he said, speaking about the lawsuit.

Gomez said he and his family are working through memories and emotions since the shooting, including difficult conversations with friends who knew both his mom and the policeman who killed her.

“This man was some of my friends’ wrestling coach. Others, you know, he was a friend,” Gomez said.