LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) –  Two sisters from Connecticut are suing the City of Las Cruces after their brother was killed during an altercation with police over allegations of a stolen can of beer. The civil lawsuit claims the city is trying to cover up the incident and is withholding public information. 

Lapel video from August 2, 2022, shows officers pulling 36-year-old Presley Eze out of a car. Within minutes, he was shot in the back of the head and killed instantly.

Now, his family is left with unanswered questions.

Civil rights attorney Shannon Kennedy shared, “He was a father to a two-year-old boy who will now have to grow up without one. His wife is shattered; his family is shattered. He is from a large family back east [and] came to New Mexico to serve this community as a nurse.” 

The family is suing the City of Las Cruces. The lawsuit said they’ve struggled to get the complete video and documents related to the fatal shooting.

“There’s been no explanation for why his life was taken. We filed a lawsuit and a public records request to get un-redacted body-worn camera footage to get to the bottom of this,” Kennedy confirmed. 

Kennedy stated the Las Cruces Police Department (LCPD) is not above the law, and this is sending a bad message to the community.

“It’s either a cover or the FBI is investigating, and they don’t want the un-redacted body-worn camera footage to be made public, but we’ve been given no explanation, and this family’s been left in the dark.”

The lawsuit claims Eze was unarmed, and officers showed an aggressive attitude towards him. Kennedy said it highlights racial bias and how it played a role in this case.

“African Americans are far more likely to be confronted by police violence than any other member in our community. There is no question in my mind that if that had been my daughter, a white girl, she would be alive,” she said. 

The Doña Ana County NAACP president is also getting involved.

“It was horrifying. This is not the first incident of violence, police shootings, and killings of unarmed people of color,” said Bobbie Green. 

She said this situation is unacceptable. She’s asking the city to make changes within LCPD, “We’ve been trying for almost a year to get a police oversight committee to work with the City of Las Cruces, not against them but with them, and have had nothing but opposition.” 

Eze’s family said this lawsuit is to find out the exact facts of what happened.

Green stated, “There’s no justice for Presley. He’s dead. His family has to live with that forever so justice is going to be impossible for them, but accountability and responsibility, transparency. That’s what we’re looking for.”

KRQE reached out to the Las Cruces Police Department to see if there is an ongoing investigation into the fatal shooting. We did not hear back.

The City of Las Cruces’ attorney commented on the case.

Without question this is a tragic case. Tragic for the Eze family, but also for the officers.  Even though the officers had to use deadly force to defend themselves from the armed and dangerous threat posed by Presley Eze, the officers never wanted to shoot Mr. Eze.  Sadly, Mr. Eze created the set of circumstances that gave the officers no real choice but to use deadly force.

Lawfirm that represents the City of Las Cruces