ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The family of Manny Tapia believes it was a police pursuit that killed their son. Now, they’re suing police and the suspect they were chasing.
The family says this video proves there was a pursuit, despite early claims by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) that it had been called off before the crash.
In July 2019, 15-year-old Manny Tapia’s lifeless body was found in the street at Ellison and Coors. When officers arrived, a crowd of people was standing around him.
“All we saw is there was a truck racing through a red light and a cop car following him,” a witness said.
Initially, APD denied chasing Juan Carlos Ramirez, who they say was in a stolen truck. Later, the department said there was a chase, but didn’t know how long it went.
“We have tried many avenues of pre-litigation discussions with the city and APD to try and figure out what happened with Manuel’s death, and we’ve gotten very little response,” said Corinne Holt, the attorney representing Manny Tapia’s family.
They’ve filed a wrongful death lawsuit against APD and Ramirez.
Holt also provided KRQE News 13 with video she says shows police pursuing the stolen truck at Coors and Eagle Ranch. She said another video came from the Walgreens less than a mile away, at Ellison and Coors.
“The narratives from the officers that were in the patrol car at the time seem to be in contradiction with the witness and the surveillance video that we have at this time,” Holt said.
The lawsuit also claims that police were in violation of their chase policy.
“There’s been no evidence provided to us at this point to suggest that Juan Carlos Ramirez has any type of violent criminal history…that he was driving erratically or was a danger to society before police started chasing him,” she said.
The lawsuit also claims the officers chasing Ramirez were directly involved in the investigation into Tapia’s death.
KRQE News 13 reached out to APD. A spokesperson says the video at the Walgreens is not the intersection where Manny was found dead, and that APD has also completed an internal affairs investigation, which the police chief is reviewing.
Juan Carlos Ramirez was charged with stealing the truck that killed Tapia and pleaded guilty to those charges on December 20. He is awaiting sentencing.