ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It was a case that rocked the state when 13-year-old Bennie Hargrove was shot and killed by a fellow student at an Albuquerque Public Schools middle school while trying to stick up for another kid being bullied. Now as part of a settlement reached between his family and APS, the district is paying out $900,000. “It shows that APS recognizes that there were systemic failures on their part to protect Bennie and students like Bennie,” said Frank Davis, one of the attorneys representing the family.
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He noted this may be one of the first cases using the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, passed in 2021. The legislation paves a way for people to bring claims in state court against public bodies who violate the rights guaranteed under the state constitution. “It shows that this is important legislation that has opened the door for plaintiffs to make our community a better and safer place,” said Davis.
“There’s no true value of money that they could receive that would really replace Bennie,” said Shane Maier, who is also representing the Hargrove estate. “They appreciate all the things that have happened in Bennie’s name since then and what they plan to do in the future.”
He said part of the settlement includes a good faith effort on APS’s part for an anti-bullying campaign. “They are very proud of the fact that APS is willing to work with them in Bennie’s honor with this anti-bullying campaign,” said Maier. “Since Bennie has passed away, this has been a lot of emotional turmoil for the family, so I know they’re breathing a sigh of relief going into the next stage.”
The lawsuit also names the student who shot Bennie and his parents. Maier and Davis said negotiations for a settlement with them are ongoing.