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$10.3 Million Verdict Against City of Albuquerque in Man's Wrongful Death by Cop Shooting

By David M. Reutter

 

A New Mexico state court jury awarded $10,342,558 to the Estate of Kenneth Ellis, III. The jury found that Albuquerque police officer Brett Lampiris-Tremba used excessive force in using and killing Ellis.

Lampiris-Tremba and officer Byron Economidy were working with a unit on January 13, 2010, to stop car thefts in an area where such thefts were soaring. They saw Ellis and two others leave an apartment complex in a black Corvette, and they followed in their unmarked car.

The officers followed in their unmarked unit and followed them to a convenience store. The plate allegedly did match the make and model of the Corvette Ellis was driving, so the officers pulled in behind them. Economist stuck the back of the Corvette with his police unit and blocked it in with his car as he turned on his emergency equipment.

Ellis exited the Corvette with a gun pointed to the temple of his head. Throughout the incident, Ellis kept the gun at or near his head. Numerous City of Albuquerque police officers were dispatched to the scene. For approximately nine minutes, officers and bystanders watched as Ellis held the gun to his head with one hand and a cellphone with the other as he used his phone to call his mother. While pacing back and forth, Ellis said that he did not want to hurt officers or civilians.

Lampiris-Tremba, without warning or cause, shot Ellis in the neck. After firing the single shot, he said, ''Fuck, did I shoot?'' Many officers and bystanders thought Ellis had shot himself. Ellis died at the scene.

The City of Albuquerque's training expert subsequently found that its training to police officers ''is not reasonable and is designed to result in the unreasonable use of deadly force.'' The City's Independent Review Officer found the fatal shooting of Ellis was unjustified.

The jury agreed. It not only found Lampiris-Tremba used excessive force, but it also found the City of Albuquerque negligently retained Lampiris-Tremba, and that retention caused the shooting of Ellis. The jury awarded compensatory damages of $7,642,558 and punitive damages of $2.7 million.

The Kennedy Law Firm in Albuquerque represented Ellis' estate and attorney Frances C. Crockett (Carpenter).

See: Higgins v. City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, New Mexico, District Court, Case no. cv-2010-06590. 

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Related legal case

Higgins v. City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, New Mexico,

 

 

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