AG Torrez, APD Chief Medina discuss alternative ways to investigate use of force

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There are differing opinions about whether local departments should investigate the incident they are involved in.

On Tuesday, a Las Cruces officer faced a manslaughter charge after he allegedly shot and killed Presley Eze at point-blank range in 2022. This case, like others, has questions swirling. 

“We have a much broader task in front of us in this community, and all across the country, to look at these moments,” said Attorney General Raúl Torrez. 

Torrez touched on it during Tuesday’s announcement of criminal charges against a Las Cruces police officer. 

“If we are going to move to a place where we have restored public trust and public confidence in the criminal justice system, we have to resolve how we’re going to handle this,” said Torrez. 

One option is independent investigators not affiliated with a law enforcement agency.

“Truly, truly, truly independent investigators and prosecutors. And that’s a fundamental feature, but also the resources necessary to get these investigations and prosecutions off the ground,” Torrez said. 

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina agrees. He addressed the issue last month. 

“Having one entity that was their sole goal would be the most beneficial way to raise confidence and trust with law enforcement throughout the whole state of New Mexico,” Medina said. 

Medina says it’s not necessarily a viable option for New Mexico right now because reform would take significant time and funding from the Legislature. 

“It’s really not a bridge we’re prepared to cross right now. We have a lot of other issues that we’re lobbying, but is this something that is on my list for someday for us to lobby? Yes I think it is definitely something that we need to look at,” said Medina. 

Medina addressed it again Wednesday during a news conference about his own department’s use of force during the first half of 2023. 

“I fully support it if the state could ever fund an outside entity to investigate all officer-involved shootings in the state of New Mexico. They need to find one where to house it and two how they are going to fund it,” said Medina. 

KOB 4 also sat down with the private attorney representing the city of Las Cruces in the civil cases filed in connection to the shooting involving Officer Lunsford. He believes it all comes down to transparency.

He says the current system is acceptable as long as the investigators get the evidence and transparency they need.