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N.M. Cop Personally Liable In Killing of Iraq War Vet

March 18, 2013  | 

Photo via APD.
Photo via APD.

A Bernalillo County, N.M., jury awarded $10.3 million to the family of an Iraq War veteran who was shot and killed by an Albuquerque Police officer during a 2010 standoff.

The Thursday verdict includes $2.7 million in punitive damages against Detective Brett Lampiris-Tremba and damages of $7.6 million against the city, reports the Albuquerque Journal.

Lampiris-Tremba's attorney told jurors the veteran detective made "the best decision he could" during a confrontation with Kenneth Ellis III in front of an convenience store. The detective fatally shot Ellis once in the neck while the veteran was holding a gun to his head.

Deputy City Attorney Kathy Levy, who represented the detective, added that Lampiris-Tremba "accepts and understands the court's decision" that the shooting was unlawful.

On Friday, Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz announced his plans to retire from a department that has come under intense scrutiny following a federal civil rights probe.

Tags: Excessive Force, Deadly Force, Albuquerque (N.M.) PD, Detectives, Jury Awards


Comments (17)

Displaying 1 - 17 of 17

DaveSAM5525G @ 3/18/2013 7:41 PM

An APD officer was shot in the lower back by a 45 Cal responding to a domestic disturbance at Ross & San Mateo SE last night rushed to UNM emergency surgery...Prayer's and thoughts are with officer family and department...The case referenced above is going to be appealed...

Dan @ 3/18/2013 7:49 PM

I don't know all the details of the case, but it seems that the court does not realize how easily the veteran could have turned the gun and began shooting at the officer.

Sgt. Mike @ 3/18/2013 7:56 PM

I for one would like to learn more about this case.

Mark @ 3/18/2013 9:09 PM

I bet if I put a gun to my head, and you have your gun pointed at me, I can redirect my pistol at you and fire a shot in your direction before you have a chance to react by taking me down. Action is faster than reaction. A suicidal subjects failure to lower his weapon is no different then someone refusing to drop their gun in low-ready after stepping out of a vehicle. If cover is unavailable, I truly do believe "he did the best he could."

DaveSAM5525G @ 3/18/2013 10:26 PM

Dan-Sgt Mike-Mark all of you are spot on there are issues...Also, I think what really hurt him was the change in his testimony. Judges and juries don’t really understand how the memory works or how unreliable it is. This often makes officers sound like liars, and they need to be educated about memories. That’s where experts like Dr. Lewinski come in, I feel personally the asst city’s attorney defense did a very good job in that regard, or in any other way for that matter...Seeing this is under appeal...In a firearm case-An individual armed with a handgun, rifle, shotgun and (Some distance limitations on each) threatening in an outdoor setting (and Mobile) presents a clear and present danger to the responding officers and any citizens within gunshot range. The officers have taken and oath a public safety responsibility to maintain public safety and contain the individual. They cannot permit him to enter structures or open areas where citizens may become victims. This limits their response options. As in this case, the officers can attempt to dissuade the individual to drop the weapon through conversation, commands, but they have no control over his ultimate decisions and actions. When firearms are involved, the officers cannot distance themselves far enough from harm’s way while still maintaining contact, control and safety. In these circumstances, the individual’s actions can turn from an armed threat to a deadly attack in the blink-of-an-eye tenths of seconds. In these encounters, the individual knows what he is going to do—the officers do not know. The individual’s handgun can move from off target to dead-on target faster than an officer can process the movement, determine the required response and take the defensive action.

Rosario Medina @ 3/19/2013 5:14 AM

An appeal must be submitted. I can imagine the second guessing that went on with this case. I'm truelly sorry the man was killed, but he was a threat to everyone there ,and to himself. Suicide by cop comes to mind here . An officer in this circumstance hasn't much choice, a split second is all he had, to act.--- Then their are the jurors, and their and biases of Police Officers. Was the Officer defended properly. Were the questioins geared to trip him up? What was his mental condition ( pschologically before and after the shooting )? More information is needed to come to a conclusion. Most importantly where was his act wrong? What made it a bad shooting. If there was a mistake ,it should be revealed , to your readers. From what I gather, the Officer was to wait until he himself came into the individuals' sights, for him to respond. There would have been a split second where the officer would have been killed. I'm just glad no one else was injured or slain. To me, there are many questions left unanswered. The responses above are right on point. My prayers go out to the APD officer wounded in the lower back, hang in there brother .

dennis @ 3/19/2013 6:08 AM

Walk a mile in his shoes. Juries and attys would shit there pants. Hopefully it will be over turned. Stay Safe

Dan B @ 3/19/2013 6:15 AM

His attorney (the city attorney who also has interest in the city not getting the fallout) should keep her mouth shut! She says he understands and accepts that it was an unlawful shooting?!? WTH?!?!

Captain @ 3/19/2013 6:25 AM

we had a real similar situation here, but my officer had a ballistic shield. It ended in suicide, but dead is dead. We actually use a scenario real close to this in training, describing exactly what was said that action is faster than reaction

SS @ 3/19/2013 6:27 AM

Seems like the perfect case for Force Science Institute to get involved with.

Jake @ 3/19/2013 7:26 AM

This decision seems obscene. Why are we so responsive in nature? Why do we feel as though we must consider perps/suspects actions isolated/static? Imminent is imminent. Judged by 12 rather than carried to your hole by 6 is the preferred outcome of any "gunfight". This was a "gunfight". Guns are tools. They are not toys. They are not props. When an unstable subject introduces a weapon to the equation which assuredly was the case in this deadly force encounter. A few things are always true. 1. Guns are always considered loaded, until determined otherwise. 2. Getting shot will most likely produce GBI, and sometimes death. 3. A subjects mental state, ie. intent or motivation, cannot be reliably determined immediately. The objective in these cases is to disarm the subject, protect yourself, and then the public. Then assess a subjects mental state. I cannot do that while someone is armed with a handgun, a handgun that presents a hazard to public safety which LE is also charged with preserving. I was not there. Neither was the jury. Neither was the judge. Unfortunately, although one of his last actions her on earth caused his departure, and a great deal of strife for many people who were not otherwise familiar with him before he decided to visit a shopping center with a handgun. I thank him for his service. He preserved my freedom, but that does nt give him the right to demonstrate such wreckless disregard for every handgun handling rule, as well as civil law statute written to ensure order in our society. He caused the problem. LE responded, and made a decision based on totality of circumstance. No one has the right to judge that officer. All facts must be viewed objectively.

C-Dub @ 3/19/2013 7:36 AM

All of you are spot on. There has to be more to the story that came out or the jury just flat wants blame some place. We all live in a world now that has to find blame and can't take it at face value that it is a tragic incident. I wonder what they would be saying if he shot himself with an officer right there. The other question I have is why was there a detective there, plain clothes or uniform? just curious. APD Officer my paryers to you and your family. Get well fast brother.

krisnlc @ 3/19/2013 7:53 AM

Tragedy...and difficult decisions. still as an officer you are trained o process through the situation... i have not read whether the officer felt he was in danger as a result of a move the dead man may have made to threaten the officer...until, that is clarified, you want to believe the officer acted in self-preservation and thought he was in mortal danger. otherwise, why shoot the man that was intending suicide anyway....in that situation you switch hats and become a preserver of human life not the death of it. If in fact the man made a move that would even suggest to the officer that the man intended on shooting the officer, then the decision to shoot should be legit. regardless a horrible circumstance, ... but his family is $10 million dollars richer...

dennis @ 3/19/2013 8:32 AM

Same situation happened on my watch, same city, subject threateneing suicide with an handgun. Had it to his right temple and we had what cover was available.Couldn't talk him down, he looked at his image in a glass door and pulled the trigger. Now here's the rub, bullet went through his head and went through a fence 25 yards away right alongside two officers set up with rifles. A matter of inches from them and then the bullet continued on through a mobile home park. Some one else could have been just as dead as he is.

PoPO50 @ 3/19/2013 1:54 PM

This is where education of the community comes in. We use FATS (firearm simulation training) to help educate the media and city council. It could easily be shown in the traiing how quickly a gun wielding suicidal subject can turn and shoot. Even someone running away with agun can shoot behind them. I encourage every department who uses this type of traiing (FATS) to allow their media and city council to try it out. They truly get a different perspective.

DaveSam5525G @ 3/19/2013 7:42 PM

Correction on my post above - for clarification "I feel personally the asst city’s attorney -defense did a very a not so good job with the threat- in that regard, or in any other way for that matter...As this is under appeal now I am going to hold my other feelings on this for now...The judge ruled on this without jury and the trial was more or less how much and who...Could things have been better of course - When your lively hood is at state bring in your UOF experts and ensure you have a lawyer who looks out for your interest...The media has been bias in this matter from the get go and when you try to show need to be objective by both state law and federal law you get moderated or called boot licker etc - I can live with that...I will say for all trainer's and UOF Experts for (Office safety - liability) procure a copy of (FBI-LEB-Perspective) June 2002 pages 14-19 Vital)!!! Thanks Mr. George T. Willams...

DaveSAM5525G @ 3/19/2013 7:47 PM

Correction on my post above and misspelling of Mr Williams name sorry corrected - for clarification "I feel personally the asst city’s attorney -defense did a very a not so good job with the threat- in that regard, or in any other way for that matter...As this is under appeal now I am going to hold my other feelings on this for now...The judge ruled on this without jury and the trial was more or less how much and who...Could things have been better of course - When your lively hood is at state bring in your UOF experts and ensure you have a lawyer who looks out for your interest...The media has been bias in this matter from the get go and when you try to show need to be objective by both state law and federal law you get moderated or called boot licker etc - I can live with that...I will say for all trainer's and UOF Experts for (Office safety - liability) procure a copy of (FBI-LEB-Perspective) June 2002 pages 14-19 Vital)!!! Thanks Mr. George T. Williams... Words like Liability-Continum-Reality-Legal requirements-consequences-OFFICER SAFETY phyiscal and legal.

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