ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico called for the resignation of Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales. The call for his resignation comes in response to Sheriff Gonzales’ extensive record of civil rights abuses, disregard for community safety, and emerging reports that Sheriff Gonzales is collaborating with the Trump Administration to send to Albuquerque the same unmarked federal forces that have been terrorizing protestors, reporters, and legal observers in Portland, OR.
“Sheriff Gonzales has shown time and time again that he is far more interested in his own personal advancement than the safety and well being of the communities in his care,” said ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson. “Rather than investing in our community’s safety with commonsense reforms to improve transparency, accountability, and training for his deputies, Sheriff Gonzales is actively working with the Trump administration to bring militarized federal police to our neighborhoods. It is time for him to step down and open up the position of Bernalillo County Sheriff to someone who will stand with us in a spirit of service, humility, and compassion.”
Under Sheriff Gonzales’s leadership, BCSO has:
- Shown an alarming escalation in use of force which has resulted in unnecessary loss of life in the community
- Cost taxpayers millions of dollars in lawsuits resulting from excessive force
- Refused to equip deputies with body worn cameras, despite receiving funding from the county commission
- Launched reckless policing operations in the heart of Albuquerque targeting economically disadvantaged neighborhoods
- Failed to coordinate operations with the City of Albuquerque
- Undermined the reforms mandated by the Department of Justice’s consent decree with Albuquerque Police Department by using the very policing tactics in the community that the reform agreement seeks to correct
- Invited a militarized federal police presence, endangering the safety and well being of the community
“One year ago today, three of Sheriff Gonzales’s deputies shot my sister 21 times,” said Elaine Maestas, sister of Elisah Lucero who was killed by BCSO on July 22, 2019. “Elisha was a beautiful and compassionate person and our family deeply mourns her loss. Rather than take responsibility for the actions of his deputies, Sheriff Gonzales has stubbornly refused to take even the smallest steps towards safer outcomes for people like Elisha. I don’t want any other family to suffer the kind of loss we have experienced. For the sake of all our families, Sheriff Gonzales must step down.”
Elisha Lucero’s fatal encounter with BCSO began the night of July 22, 2019 when a family member called emergency services after she began behaving erratically and struck her uncle, on whose property she was currently living in a RV. Lucero, whose mental health had deteriorated following major brain surgery, had become increasingly paranoid and required emergency assistance on several occasions in the months leading up to her death.
Despite prior knowledge of her fragile mental state and reports from her family that she was unarmed, the responding BCSO deputies took an aggressive stance towards Lucero, banging on her RV door, yelling, and brandishing weapons in a threatening manner. Lucero responded by running out of her RV in an agitated state, at which point all three deputies opened fire, cutting her down in a hail of bullets.
The Lucero family is holding a candlelight vigil tonight at 8 p.m at 4113 Sheldon St. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87105 - the location where Elisha was killed a year ago today. Those who wish to accompany the family in honoring Elisha’s life are invited to attend.