ALBUQUERQUE, NM - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico is calling on New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas to conduct a thorough, independent and transparent investigation into the July 6, 2022 Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) SWAT standoff that caused a house fire and ended in the tragic death of 15-year-old Brett Rosenau.
On July 6, APD’s SWAT team executed an arrest warrant for 27-year-old Qiaunt Kelley in a Southeast Albuquerque residence Kelley was visiting that resulted in an hours-long standoff. An unknown number of tear gas canisters and rounds of powder-based chemicals were thrown into the home. The home caught on fire during the standoff and Kelley exited but Rosenau was found dead inside as well as a family dog. News reports this morning confirm Rosenau’s cause of death was smoke inhalation. While patience is required to determine the details of this encounter, the facts that have already surfaced present real questions concerning the training and experience of APD’s SWAT team and the dangers presented if tear gas canisters are used improperly.
Barron Jones, senior policy strategist at the ACLU of New Mexico, issued the following statement:
“Any time a police encounter leads to the death of a person in our community, we must demand a full and unbiased accounting of how it happened. It is especially heartbreaking when our community loses a child in an interaction with local police.
This latest incident is another tragic example of an extremely deadly year for the Albuquerque Police Department. New Mexico regularly ranks first or second nationwide in the rate of people killed by police. This is a systemic statewide problem mostly affecting people of color who are disproportionately victims of police violence.
The loss of yet another Black child during a police encounter is a story all too familiar and should trigger scrutiny from the highest levels. Rosenau’s loved ones deserve answers and our community must be assured that proper accountability will be applied to fatal police encounters like this one.”