Bennie Hargrove’s family settles with APS for $900K
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – More than two years after Bennie Hargrove was shot and killed by a classmate at his Albuquerque middle school, his family has one more piece of closure.
APS will pay the family $900,000 as the result of a civil suit against the district for its role in Bennie’s death.
The lawsuit claimed the principal and school resource officer were told there was a gun on campus, and the shooter wasn’t suspended after punching another student in the face the day before the shooting.
“APS had some mistakes with how they were handling the situation and created an environment that resulted in Bennie’s death,” said Attorney Shane Maier, co-counsel for the Hargrove family. “And this is them, acknowledging there was that mistake.”
Attorneys say this case could also be one of the first successful cases under the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, passed in 2021.
“The New Mexico Civil Rights Act creates protections for individuals in our state of their New Mexico state constitutional rights, which are actually broader and more expansive than the federal constitution,” said Frank Davis, co-counsel for the Hargrove family.
The settlement also includes a “good faith” agreement on APS’s part for an anti-bullying campaign. APS Superintendent Scott Elder says that will be one of many things to come out of this tragedy.
“I do think maybe something that’s standardized that we can show across the district, and more than one language is probably going to be real important,” said Elder. “This can’t happen again, these sorts of things have to stop. The bigger issue, of course, is keeping the guns out of their hands.”
Elder says APS has revisited several procedures since Bennie’s death in 2021, and the district is always looking for areas that need more improvement.
“We continue to beef up our security, we continue to talk about ‘See Something, Say Something.’ And that’s really become a tremendously powerful tool for us,” said Elder. “What happened to Bennie Hargrove shouldn’t have happened.”