Family members want more change following DOJ report

Posted at: 04/10/2014 6:24 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Some of the major players in the Department of Justice investigation have been families whose loved ones were killed by police. They were invited to Thursday’s announcement, and several said it was good news, but didn’t go far enough.

Right before the news conference, families with loved ones shot by Albuquerque Police Department officers hugged one another, waiting to hear what they say they’ve known for years: that APD uses too much force too often.

“I've got mixed feelings about the decision,” Gomez said. “I'm glad they found out that things were wrong but now it's time to do something about it. Now it's time for the big A word, accountability.”

Gomez still wears a charm engraved with his son Alan’s face. Alan was shot by an officer who thought he had a gun; police later said it was a spoon.

“My son didn't die in vain. And none of the other victims sons have died in vain. If their deaths meant it had to come to this, so be it for the good of the community. For the good of Albuquerque so none of the other families have to feel our pain,” Gomez said.

Gomez blames the mayor for not taking action on police shootings sooner. Jonelle Ellis does, too.

She lost Kenneth Ellis III, her brother – as well as a father, son and Iraq war veteran – to a police shooting.

“They don't get to backpedal after many many incidents of use of force and here we have a national agency come in and expose the corruption inside APD and yet we're keeping the same leadership who's allowed the behavior for many years,” Ellis said.

Reading through the DOJ’s report, the Ellis family nodded at criticism about use of force and working with the mentally ill. But they and other families say the findings are just a start – they want more.

“This is just another hurdle. I've been at this for four years and my struggle's not over yet. Like I said there's a man out there that violated my son's civil rights and he needs to be held accountable to that law,” Kenneth Ellis II said.

The DOJ held closed meetings with families Thursday. They say they hope to keep them in the loop throughout the reform process.