Media Contact

Davida Gallegos,

April 6, 2022

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico and the Ives & Flores, P.A. law firm filed two lawsuits against Chaves County Board of County Commissioners and the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy (LEA) Board, on behalf of the family of Oscar Najera, who Chaves County Sheriffs’ Office (CCSO) deputies Ricardo Delgado and Raul Ramos shot and killed on June 27, 2021. Najera, who suffered from PTSD and a severe injury to his head, was unarmed and shot seven times, with several shots in his back. 

“The deputies’ rushed approach of Najera and failure to de-escalate and accurately assess whether he was a threat of immediate and deadly harm are indicative of a lack of judgment, training, and familiarity with firearms necessary for law enforcement to safely perform their duties,” said Leon Howard, legal director at the ACLU of New Mexico. “Najera was unarmed, made no threats to officers and he was surrendering.” 

On June 27, 2021, CCSO deputies, Delgado and Ramos, responded to a 911 call from Najera’s girlfriend alleging a domestic altercation. When deputies finally identified Najera they did not confirm or identify Najera as having a weapon. Within seconds of arriving, Deputies Delgado and Ramos yelled commands at Najera and then, without warning or identifying themselves as police, they shot at him several times, killing him.  

“This complaint comes on the heels of yet another deputy shooting and killing of a Chaves County resident. It is abundantly clear that near non-existent training at the CCSO is contributing to unjustified killings that do not reflect the law these officers are sworn to uphold,” said Laura Ives, attorney at Ives & Flores, P.A. “CCSO has instituted a practice of hiring officers with problematic and dangerous histories from other local police departments, often while they have pending referrals to the LEA. The LEA in turn refuses to police the police, allowing these officers to continue working in our communities. The LEA’s failures have helped propel New Mexico to the second-highest fatal police shooting rate in the United States.”

The lawsuit cites a long history of CCSO issues including an increase in use of deadly force under Sheriff Harrington, failures to certify officers in firearms use and decisional shooting or de-escalation of persons with mental illnesses or brain injuries, like Najera, as well as hiring “problem cops” from other departments. The lawsuit also states the LEA failed to ensure departments and officers are complying with statutory and regulatory training requirements.

“The killing of Najera is a culmination of many CCSO and LEA failures and displays a systemic problem throughout our state,” said Barron Jones, senior policy strategist at ACLU of New Mexico. “It is past time fatal officer encounters like this one be addressed with proper oversight and accountability.”

Copies of the full complaints can be found below.

Lapel footage from Najera’s shooting can be found here: 

Security footage from Delgado's previous use of force can be found here: