ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s was just before 4 a.m. on Nov. 17, when Bernalillo County deputies were in pursuit of a suspected stolen truck.
“Our air support unit observed a vehicle driving very erratic,” said Sheriff Manuel Gonzales during a November news conference.
Deputies said they had to use a PIT maneuver to stop the driver of the stolen truck at Coors, a few blocks south of I-40.
“The deputies felt threatened,” Sheriff Gonzales said.
Seven shots were fired, killing the driver Isaac Padilla, along with his passenger Martin Jim. In December, Jim’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
“We’ve obviously got some cowboys that want to run up to trucks and just start shooting,” said Sam Bregman, attorney for the Jim family.
Now, Padilla’s family is suing the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and the county. The lawsuit claims the use of excessive force, but it also targets the department’s refusal to get body cameras.
For years Sheriff Gonzales has resisted the idea, citing funding and arguing cameras don’t tell the complete story. However, in a capital outlay request in the state legislature this year, the department is asking for $1 million to buy and equip patrol cars with dashcams, and another $350,000 for a multi-terrain loader and a heavy duty truck.
“Someone needs to remind the county commissioners that they hold the purse strings, and it’s time to demand cameras,” Bregman said in December.
Martin Jim’s family claimed the county is partly at fault for his death. Now, Padilla’s family is doing the same, saying they failed to correct known deficiencies with BCSO policies that are leading to unnecessary shootings.
BCSO has a handful of patrol cars with dashcams as part of the test trial. The department would not say if there are any plans in the works to outfit deputies with cameras.