LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Las Cruces has agreed to pay nearly $3 million to the family of 75-year-old Amelia Baca who was shot and killed by police. It’s a case that has sparked outrage and an investigation into the use of force policies in the department.
Amelia Baca, who suffers from dementia had an episode. Her family called 911 for help. When an officer arrived, he ushers two women out. They urge him to take it easy on Baca. However tensions skyrocket, and within minutes of the arrival, the officer fires a shot.
Attorney Sam Bregman confirms the City of Las Cruces has agreed to pay $2.75 million to Baca’s family, the maximum allowed under state law. Bregman says he’s also pursuing a federal lawsuit. In that court, there is no limit for what a jury can award. “I do appreciate the folks at the city for recognizing that In fact, this was an absolutely not acceptable, outrageous killing of a grandmother by a Las Cruces police officer with no justification,” said Bregman.
Bregman also represented the family of Antonio Valenzuela who fled from Las Cruces police officers in 2020. During a struggle, officers tried tasing him. When that didn’t work officer Christopher Smelser held Valenzuela in a chokehold. Valenzuela died.
The City of Las Cruces ended up paying his family $6.5 million and promised change. Two years later, a different situation but still with deadly results. Baca’s family is also calling for change.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the City of Las Cruces for comment. They said given the pending litigation, they will not comment at this time. KRQE also reached out to the Las Cruces Police Department to find out the status of the officer who shot Baca and to the District Attorney’s Office to see if they are considering charges against him. They have not responded back.