ALBUQUERQUE, NM–The Coleman family, who lost their home in Albuquerque following a SWAT operation-caused fire, filed a complaint today against the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO). The family is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico and Atkins & Walker Law.

On July 6, 2022, APD and BCSO led a SWAT operation that resulted in a deadly fire, tragically ending the life of 15-year-old Brett Rosenau and burning down the Coleman family home. The fire left the Coleman family homeless, destroyed treasured belongings, and killed their beloved dog.

“We were heartbroken that a child died in the home that my mother worked so hard for,” said Sundra Coleman, a plaintiff in the case. “Since our home burned down in July 2022, our family has struggled. At first, we stayed in motels, but I can’t afford to pay for motels and pay the mortgage for our burned-down home. Now, we’re staying in my car.” 

Today’s lawsuit—filed on behalf of grandmother Sundra Coleman, daughter Da-Janay Banks, Da-Janay’s child, A.H., and aunt Elizabeth Fields—follows an earlier suit filed by the family of Brett Rosenau represented by civil rights attorney Taylor Smith. The lawsuit alleges that APD and BCSO violated the constitutional rights of the family members during their attempts to execute an arrest warrant for an individual who didn’t even reside in the home.

During the SWAT operation, officers pointed guns at Sundra, Da-Janay, and baby A.H. Officers also handcuffed Sundra and Da-Janay without probable cause, forcing them to stand and watch as officers destroyed their home—a home that Sundra inherited from her mother. 

"As a result of the house fire, a family with a three-year-old toddler has been forced to live in a car," said Samuel H. Walker, an attorney with Atkins & Walker Law. "The trauma and instability caused by this incident are profound and unacceptable. We hope this lawsuit will bring some measure of justice and relief to the Coleman family."

“This tragedy was preventable. A lawsuit can’t bring back the Coleman family home, the family photographs and heirlooms, the pots and pans that Sundra’s mother cooked with, their cherished pet or the flag the U.S. government presented to Sundra when her son, a veteran, died,” said ACLU of New Mexico Legal Director Maria Martinez Sanchez. “However, it can help the Coleman family rebuild and recover, and hopefully, it will also encourage ADP and BCSO to implement meaningful internal changes in their operations.”

The complaint—filed in the Second Judicial District in Albuquerque—is below.