ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Just hours after City Hall announced the retirement of Albuquerque's police chief a jury on Friday awarded more than $10 million in damages to the family of a troubled war veteran shot and killed by a city officer.
This civil lawsuit centered on the shooting death of Kenneth Ellis III, an Iraq War veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, who put a gun to his head after a traffic stop in January 2010. Detective Brett Lampiris-Tremba shot and killed Ellis after a nine-minute standoff outside a northeast Albuquerque convenience store.
.After more than one full day of deliberations, jurors reached a unanimous decision and about 3:30 p.m.awarding:
- A $7.6 million judgment against the city of Albuquerque
- A $2.7 million judgment against Lampiris-Tremba
Before the trial began the judge ruled the shooting to be an excessive use of force leaving the jury mostly to determine the level of damages.
Many members of the Ellis family were in attendance and burst into tears when the verdict was read.
"My brother's looking down on us, and he's been with us this whole time," said Jonelle Ellis. "And we truly believe, we truly believe this was an amazing justice for our family and for my brother."
City attorneys and members of the Albuquerque Police Department left the courtroom as soon as court adjourned and were not available for comment.
The Ellis family says the damages will go to Kenneth's son who was 4 when his father was killed.
News of the massive judgment and of APD Chief Ray Schultz's retirement came as a victory for APD's biggest critics, the families of some of the men shot and killed by APD officers in recent years.
The chief has been the target of numerous rallies, protests and city council public-comment sessions with angry families and the public calling for a complete overhaul of APD and for the chief to step down.
Often among them was Ken Ellis II, who spoke with KRQE News 13 Friday afternoon while the jury was still deliberating the family's civil case against APD.
"I would hope that the next chief of police that we get in there has some integrity and some ethics and will bring the police department up to the standard it needs to be," Ellis said.
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