ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The cop at the center of a civil trial that could cost the city of Albuquerque a bundle of money took the stand Monday morning.
Officer Brett Lampiris-Tremba killed an Iraq war veteran in a shooting the judge has already ruled unnecessary.
Lampiris-Tremba explained why he pulled the trigger Monday.
"I wasn't sure if he was going to kill himself or shoot one of us," Lampiris-Tremba said.
Lampiris-Tremba testified saying he was afraid for his and other officers' safety when he shot and killed Kenneth Ellis in January 2010.
Ellis was pulled over by police in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven in the heights.
THe 25-year-old Iraq war veteran then held a gun at his own head through the nine minute standoff.
Lampiris-Tremba says he thought the situation was escalating as Ellis told his mother in a phone call he loved her and that he didn't want to go to prison.
"I thought the situation based on what he was saying was getting worse, but i didn't shoot him solely because he was on the phone with his mother," Lampiris-Tremba said.
Lampiris-Tremba also testified that Ellis was twitchy, wasn't following commands and that he made movements toward another officer.
Testimony the Ellis family's attorney pointed out is inconsistent with the officer's statements taken after the shooting.
"When you had the opportunity to give this statement the day after, you said he actually moved toward you, right?" Joe Kennedy said.
A judge ruled last month the shooting was excessive force, that Ellis wasn't posing a threat to anyone but himself.
Lampiris-Tremba says he understands the ruling, but says he did what he thought was right.
"I thought I made, at the time, i thought i made the best decision given the circumstances," lampiris tremba said.
The jury will decide if the traffic stop that led to the shooting was legal. They will also decide if APD has a problem with its hiring and training policies and then decide on damages.
Monday on the stand Officer Lampiris-Tremba admitted he lied about his past drug use when he applied to become a cop and admitted he's been in trouble while on the force for lying on his time-card and for using a stun gun on an innocent man.
Lampiris-Tremba will be back on the stand Tuesday morning.
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