Judge rules 2010 death of Iraq vet by APD is 'unjustified'

Posted at: 02/20/2013 1:47 PM
Updated at: 02/20/2013 6:15 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Photo: Kenneth Ellis
Photo: Kenneth Ellis


A District Judge has ruled an Albuquerque police officer was not justified when he shot and killed an Iraq War veteran in 2010.

District Judge Shannon Bacon ruled Wednesday that the city “defendants can give no lawful justification for their use of force.”

Kenneth Ellis’ sister, Jonelle, sees the District Court’s ruling as a victor for her family and the city of Albuquerque.

"It proves a point that just because you hold a badge, you can get away with shooting somebody and today in court they said he should never have been shot," she said Wednesday.

Ellis has dissected every minute of what she believes happened January 13, 2010 at the 7-Eleven on Constitution and Eubank.

Albuquerque police stopped Kenneth Ellis in the parking lot on suspicion of driving a stolen car.

Ellis got out of the car and was pointing a gun to his head.

Ellis would not put the gun down.

Police say they had no idea the Iraq War veteran had PTSD.

"He stops, hangs up the phone call takes a step forward,” describes Ellis pointing to pictures of the scene. “[Detective Gerald] Roach tells him ... Don't keep coming forward, my brother stops takes a step back. Tremba from over here shoots and fires."

Officer Brett Lampiris-Tremba was cleared of wrongdoing by both APD Internal Affairs and a grand jury.

But Judge Bacon ruled Wednesday that an objectively reasonable officer would not have fired.

"There were 20 other officers or more, can't tell you exactly how many were present, not one of them felt the threat that this officer felt," said Ellis.

The case could be settled out of court or go to trial.

The family’s attorney says there’s no cap on the amount of money that could be awarded to Jonelle’s nephew, now 7 years old.

"What price tag do you put on that his dad doesn't get to see him grow up, he doesn't get to coach his soccer team. He doesn't get to put him in boy scouts," she said. "You tell me if you can put a price tag on that."

 Kathryn Levy, Deputy City Attorney released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

“Detective Lampiris-Tremba and the City are disappointed in Judge Bacon’s ruling. We firmly believe the issues in this case should have been submitted to a jury for its deliberation and judgment. Prior to discharging his weapon, Detective Lampiris-Tremba reasonably perceived an imminent threat of deadly harm from Kenneth Ellis who was armed. Due to the fact that there are remaining issues going to trial, the City believes it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”