ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico called for a thorough investigation of the incident on February 20th that ended with an Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officer fatally shooting Claude Trevino, 40, of Hernandez, NM. The fatal encounter, which was partially captured on video by a bystander, occurred after Trevino was approached by two APD officers as he walked in traffic on San Mateo. The encounter appears to escalate quickly as officers close in on Trevino, leading to officers deploying a taser and then shooting him fatally.

“Anytime a routine encounter leads to police shooting and killing a person in our community, we must demand a full and unbiased accounting of how the tragedy came to pass,” said Barron Jones, Senior Policy Strategist for the ACLU of New Mexico. “APD has a long history of needlessly escalating situations leading to avoidable death and injury, and has consistently failed to investigate these incidents with the proper rigor, transparency, and impartiality. Our community must be assured that proper oversight and accountability will be applied to fatal officer encounters like this one, or public trust can never be restored between police and the people of Albuquerque.”

In November, 2020, federal monitor Dr. James Ginger, who was appointed by the courts to oversee the reform agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the City of Albuquerque addressing a “pattern and practice of civil rights violations” at APD, issued a scathing assessment of APD’s progress towards improving its investigation of use of force incidents. In his report, Dr. Ginger wrote that the department had “failed miserably to police itself,” citing lackluster internal affairs investigations, failure to report use of force, and inadequate officer training.

“Unfortunately, these problems are not restricted to just APD; excessive use of force and police brutality is a systemic problem throughout our state,” said Elaine Maestas, ACLU of New Mexico Police Accountability Strategist. “New Mexico regularly ranks first or second nationwide in the rate of people killed by police. Our current laws governing use of force have failed to protect communities. Officers here can use deadly force even when it is not absolutely necessary for their safety or the safety of others and when alternatives have not been exhausted.”

To address some of these system problems, reform advocates have introduced a bill (SB 227) that would establish a new statewide use of force standard, the strongest of its kind in the nation, and the New Mexico Civil Rights Act (HB4), that would remove barriers to seeking justice in state courts when police violate New Mexicans’ rights.