ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The family of a man shot and killed by Albuquerque Police plans to sue the department and police chief Harold Medina. They believe the police didn’t do all they could to help someone having a mental health crisis.
“We are here to remember our baby brother who was taken from us March 19, 2022, by APD officers,” said Natasha Neztsosie, sister of Collin Neztsosie. “Collin was not a bad guy. He was not a criminal. Collin was a loving, caring person who had a mental illness.”
In March, APD responded to the area of Central and Tramway after reports of 33-year-old Collin Neztsosie threatening to shoot someone then himself. Callers said he was standing on the street waving a gun. APD said it was on the phone with Neztsosie for 26 minutes trying to de-escalate the situation. 911 calls show the conversation between Neztsosie and a dispatcher.
Dispatcher: “Collin, you have not done anything wrong, okay?”
Collin: “Nope. “
Dispatcher: “Collin, we’re going to get you some help. All you have to do is put the gun on the ground and talk to the officers.”
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Police say Neztsosie pointed a cell phone at officers, which at the time they thought was a gun, leading to officers shooting and killing him. Neztsosie’s family said they violated his civil rights.
A representative for the family said in the lawsuit they’re asking for money and for APD officers to do more training on how to handle mental health situations.
APD said it was a ‘suicide by cop’ situation, but Neztsosie’s family calls that an excuse. “I do not believe that. How could that be a suicide mission?” said Natasha.
“That was a cry for help,” said Tammy Neztsosie, Collin’s other sister. “It’s just another way, a form of them to get out of this mess.”
APD said they have had encounters with Neztsosie before and had them in their mental health database. His family is wondering why the crisis intervention team, who they say has helped with past encounters between APD and Neztsosie, wasn’t called the day he died.
The two officers who opened fire have both been with the department for more than 10 years and had not been involved in an officer-involved shooting prior to Neztsosie’s death. APD confirms both officers are back on duty. When asked about the lawsuit, a spokesperson with APD said they do not comment on pending litigation.