2010 Albuquerque Police Shooting of Kenneth Ellis III Ruled Unconstitutional

shot by copJonelle EllisThe police department in Albuquerque, New Mexico came under investigation by the federal Department of Justice last November after there had been 17 fatal police shootings since the shooting of Iraq War veteran Kenneth Ellis III on January 13, 2010. That shooting has now been ruled as a violation of Ellis’ rights in a federal lawsuit the family is pursuing. From the local CBS affiliate:

In 2010 Albuquerque Police Department Officer Bret Lampiris-Tremba killed Kenneth Ellis Jr. outside a Northeast Heights convenience store.

Ellis, an Iraq war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, was pointing a gun at his own head and negotiating with a crisis-intervention officer when Lampiris-Tremba suddenly shot him.

The city independent review officer ruled he should not have fired, but the citizen review commission later ruled the shooting justified.

However, at a hearing Wednesday on a lawsuit filed by Ellis' family, District Judge Shannon Bacon ruled that Ellis posed no threat to anyone and that the shooting violated his constitutional rights.

The Albuquerque Journal has a response from the city attorney:

“Detective  Lampiris-Tremba and the City are disappointed in Judge Bacon’s ruling. We firmly believe the issues in this case should have been submitted to a jury for its deliberation and judgment. Prior to discharging his weapon, Detective Lampiris-Tremba reasonably perceived an imminent threat of deadly harm from Kenneth Ellis who was armed. Due to the fact that there are remaining issues going to trial, the City believes it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

And from CBS News, other reasons the DOJ is probing the police department:

In addition, the Albuquerque Police Department has been plagued in recent months by a number of high-profile cases alleging excessive force by officers, including some cases caught on video.

One video showed officers giving each other celebratory "belly bumps" after beating a suspected car thief in a parking garage. Another clip showed an officer illegally entering an apartment and using a stun gun on one suspect, then punching another suspect after he had surrendered.

The department also changed its social media policy involving officers after a detective shot and killed a man last year and listed his occupation as "human waste disposal" on his Facebook page. The detective was later suspended and transferred out of the department's gang unit to field services.

Ellis’ father also met with DOJ officials after their investigation began in November.

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  • Professional Target||

    Note to self: Cannot kill someone to keep him from attempting suicide.

    Got it!

  • Almanian!||

    the citizen review commission later ruled the shooting justified

    QED

    Yo, FUCK the DOJ for going after those who protect us. If Lampiris-Tremba hadn't taken out Ellis, Ellis might have shot himsel! So L-T prevened Ellis from hurting - and pobably KILLING - himself.

    And for this the City of Albuquerque gets hit with civil rights suits and shit.

    Thanks very much, DOJ.

    PS REALL? A "citizen" review panel decided this was a good shoot? Was the panel made up entirely of retired cops? Fuuuuuuck

  • ||

    Exactly what jumped out at me. RUBBER STAMP.

    How can shooting someone who is threatening to shoot themselves ever, in any possible interpretation, be the correct response?

    Disgusting.

  • Generic Stranger||

    Anyone want to take bets on the backgrounds of the people staffing the review board?

    My guess: former cops and their family members.

  • Andrew S.||

    It looks like you're probably correct.

    http://abq.policecomplaints.in.....ssion.html

    The chair of the board apparently "directs the auxiliary of the local branch of the Fraternal Order of Police". She claims that despite that (and despite the fact that the FOP opposes citizen review panels entirely) that she can be objective. Obviously, the PD has no problem with her being there.

    Another article I found (which I don't see a confirmation for, but it wouldn't surprise me) says the board has never found against an officer.

  • Andrew S.||

    Edit: Apparently she resigned. The commission, however, is still pro-police.

    http://abq.policecomplaints.in.....ssion.html

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    She's the Ron Swanson of civilian review boards.

  • Counterfly Guard||

    District Judge Shannon Bacon
    District Judge Shannon Bacon
    District Judge Shannon Bacon
    District Judge Shannon Bacon
    District Judge Shannon Bacon
    District Judge Shannon Bacon

    Congrats to Ellis' family on hitting the lottery courtesy of the Albuquerque, NM local population, but good luck on collecting.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I wouldn't want to be Detective Lampiris-Tremba right now. I can't imagine the punishment to an agent of the state who violates the Constitution.

  • db||

    Well, there's basically no precedent...

  • Andrew S.||

    So now that the judge has ruled that the shooting was unconstitutional, surely the DA will go back and charge the cop with murder, right?

    ...yeah, I couldn't even say that with a straight face.

  • Virginian||

    Cops are once again cowards.

  • John||

    No kidding. I can't understand what would possibly have gone through the cop's mind that would cause him to shoot the guy. You have to be a complete hyped up irrational baboon to do that. Apparently the APD provides no training whatsoever to its officers.

  • Jordan||

    Come on, it's simple logic: We're here to prevent him from shooting himself. What's the easiest way to accomplish that? Shoot him first. Plus, it's fun! Talking it out is for fags.

  • sarcasmic||

    I can't understand what would possibly have gone through the cop's mind that would cause him to shoot the guy.

    "My shift is over and I've already hit the overtime limit for the week. Fuck this shit. I'm going home."

  • LTC(ret) John||

    On the contrary!

    "Man, my shift is almost done....I need something to get some of that sweet overtime..."

    BLAM!

    "That should be good for 8 hours, minimum"

  • db||

    One possibility:

    Poor. Trigger. Discipline.

    Which, for any non-cop out there would result in murder or negligent homicide charges.

  • SIV||

    The cop says he stepped forward while holding the gun to his head. Regardless this ranks pretty low on the police abuse scale. The dead guy was armed, in public and threatening to shoot himself while a bunch of cops were holding him at gunpoint. Sounds like a successful suicide.

  • John||

    I think it is pretty high. The guy was clearly disturbed. We hire police, rather than take volunteers, because we want people who deal with these sorts of situations in humane and professional ways.

  • SIV||

    I'm judging this based on other police abuses and the way they are usually handled. How often do cops shot somebody in their home, threatening themselves with a knife, and nothing comes of it? That's bad, I'd say criminal homicide bad, yet it is routine This guy was in public with a gun and threatening to shoot surrounded by cops pointing weapons at him. It sounds much more like "suicide by cop" than "a cry for help".

  • Aresen||

    Supposing he did want to commit "suicide by cop", that does not justify the cops assisting the suicide.

    Their own reports indicate they were not in immediate danger.

    Also, someone with a gun to his head has to position his arm so that it presents a rather open target. Why not just disable the guy instead of killing him?

  • SIV||

    I didn't say it was necessarily "justified" just that it ranks at the bottom of police abuse cases.

    Why not just disable the guy instead of killing him?

    Easier said than done. The cop shot him (reportedly) after he made a "sudden move" while holding a gun. This is not like "a sudden move" by someone who is not presenting a weapon yet they get away with that all the time.

  • Rasilio||

    The fact that he had the gun to his own head and cops had him at gunpoint is evidence enough that every cop at the scene with a gun drawn should have been fired.

    He was not threatening anyone else and therefore the biggest danger he presented to anyone else is if percieved a threat from someone to take the gun away. A professional in that situation would have holstered his firearm held his hands up showing he wasn't a threat and tried to talk the guy down, something he probably would have succeeded at given he had not already pulled the trigger

  • SIV||

    I searched for details on what lead to the cops being there but all I could find is a "pay story".The guy is out in public, armed,and threatening to shoot himself, and refusing to put down the gun when confronted by police.He is presenting a threat to anyone downrange of the opposite side of his head from where he is pointing the gun.The situation has been going on long enough for a "negotiator" to be in the picture.
    With all the stories of police abuse we hear daily this one is ranking close to the bottom. The police came under Federal scrutiny after 17 fatal shootings. I'd bet several of those were were more questionable than this one.

  • Meerkatx||

    The cop was worried that Ellis might shoot himself first, thereby depriving the police officers at the scene the chance to kill someone. LEO's need their fun too you know.

  • ||

    You have to be a complete hyped up irrational baboon to do that

    Exactly, John. Exactly.

  • John||

    That is what our resident troll Dunphy never understands. The reason why we pay a police force is so that we have people who are trained and handle these situations better than the average person. If we just wanted a group of people to go around beating the shit out of and shooting people, we could probably get that for free via a volunteer force.

  • SugarFree||

    You don't understand the fact pattern, John. We have to wait for all the facts and then understand the fact pattern and then study the UOF (which is policy and legal because policy is legal) and then make a determination is maybe something happened and police are heroes and deserve respect anyway.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    pointing a gun at his own head and negotiating with a crisis-intervention officer when Lampiris-Tremba suddenly shot him.

    Somebody should check the teevee listings for that day. Maybe Wapner was coming on.

  • ||

    He can drive slow on the driveway.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If a cop says, "Drop the motherfucking gun, motherfucker!" and you don't drop the gun, EVERYTHING FROM THAT POINT ONWARD is nobody's fault but yours.

    Just ask Fearless Fosdick and his various ball-lickers.

  • Redmanfms||

    and you don't drop the gun

    In 2 nanoseconds, while hearing Cop #2 scream, "Freeze, freeze, Don't fucking move!!!"

  • John||

    And 20 others emptying their service weapons within two seconds of hearing the first shot go off.

  • Andrew S.||

    "Fun" editorial (the local newspaper actually seems to be on top of this) about what a joke the APD oversight board is

    http://www.abqjournal.com/main.....farce.html

  • Andrew S.||

    More local newspaper editorial fun on the joke of an oversight board

    http://www.abqjournal.com/main.....ility.html

    Quote from a commissioner, on someone who dared to try to talk about the Chairwoman's bias:

    “You do not have an unlimited right to come up and speak about anything you want, and say anything you want, during public comment.”

    — Police Oversight Commissioner Richard Shine

  • Outlaw||

    http://www.flpba.org/news/news.php?article=94

    The Police Benevolent Association sued our county's citizen review board (which was a joke anyway) and had it stripped of its investigatory powers because it conflicted with the Law Enforcement Officer's Bill of Rights.

    Jackbooted thugs having their own Bill of Rights is proof of enough that they are modern day knights and I don't feel bad for them when they get crossbowed.

    Fuck 'em and fuck you too, Dunphy. Collaborationist fuck.

  • ||

    I am not in danger. I am the danger.

  • Paul.||

    However, at a hearing Wednesday on a lawsuit filed by Ellis' family, District Judge Shannon Bacon ruled that Ellis posed no threat to anyone and that the shooting violated his constitutional rights.

    Serious question: Why this one?

    I mean, don't get me wrong, I agree with the ruling. But we have an agitated guy, with a presumably loaded weapon in his hand surrounded by cops (but not pointed at the cops). Someone got jumpy and shot him.

    But why this shooting? Don't we have a rather deep and wide repository of police killings of entirely unarmed people? People who were shot, beaten to death, tased to death while they lay, prostrate upon the ground, weapon-less? All of these shootings and killings which were ruled completely justified by either the department of the citizen review committee?

    Did Ellis' family just have the right lawyers?

    It all just seems so... random.

  • Meerkatx||

    "Iraq War veteran". This man is special, had it been "Wendy's drive thru worker" I suspect that cops would have been lauded as heroes for their actions.

  • ||

    Surprise surprise, no Dunphy in this thread.

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