ALBUQUERQUE, NM - On Sunday night, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed Elisha Lucero, a 28-year-old woman who appeared to be having a mental health crisis. Ms. Lucero’s family members said they called the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office for assistance, but told them Ms. Lucero was not armed and that she just needed help.
Since Sunday, BSCO has offered few details about what happened, other than alleging that 4-foot-11-inch Lucero aggressively approached deputies. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico issued a statement in response, calling for transparency and accountability. The following can be attributed to Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico:
“Our hearts go out to Ms. Lucero’s family and loved ones in their time of mourning. Ms. Lucero’s death is a senseless tragedy that should have been avoided. The public needs to be assured that it can call upon law enforcement to help in these situations without running the risk that their loved ones are going to be gunned down for acting erratically. If we are to prevent future tragedies like this from occurring, we must ensure that mental health professionals are the ones responding to mental health emergencies, not police.”
“The public has a right to a complete, objective account of what happened. But we may never know the full truth about the circumstances that led to Ms. Lucero’s death because BSCO has steadfastly refused to adopt body-worn camera technology, despite evidence that it has dramatically reduced complaints against officers and officer involved shootings in a number of departments around the country. We’re calling on Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales to reverse his position on this critical issue and join the thousands of police departments nationwide that have improved their professionalism and accountability by adopting body-worn cameras. BCSO also owes the public full disclosure on how its officers are trained to respond to calls about people experiencing a mental health crisis and what steps it took, if any, to deescalate the situation prior to killing Ms. Lucero.”