The family of Elisha Lucero, who was shot 21 times by Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) deputies on July 22, 2019, launched a billboard campaign commemorating the one-year anniversary of her death this week. The billboards, which were created in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New México, who represented the family in a civil suit against BCSO, seek to raise awareness about the urgent need for police reform in Bernalillo County and statewide.
“As we mark a year’s passing since the tragic and senseless killing of Elisha, we wanted to send a message that this is not how things have to be,” said Elaine Maestas, Elisha Lucero’s sister. “Our community should never have to fear that calling emergency services will result in the death of a loved one. Not every problem requires an armed response. We must dramatically reimagine the role of law enforcement in our lives because the current system is killing our families.”
Elisha Lucero’s fatal encounter with BCSO began the night of July 22, 2019 when a family member called emergency services after she began behaving erratically and struck her uncle, on whose property she was currently living in a RV. Lucero, whose mental health had deteriorated following major brain surgery, had become increasingly paranoid and required emergency assistance on several occasions in the months leading up to her death.
“As we mark a year’s passing since the tragic and senseless killing of Elisha, we wanted to send a message that this is not how things have to be.”
Despite prior knowledge of her fragile mental state and reports from her family that she was unarmed, the responding BCSO deputies took an aggressive stance towards Lucero, banging on her RV door, yelling, and brandishing weapons in a threatening manner. Lucero responded by running out of her RV in an agitated state, at which point all three deputies opened fire, cutting her down in a hail of bullets.
In contradiction to a close hand eyewitness account from a family member, the BCSO deputies claimed that Lucero was holding a knife when she emerged from the RV. Because Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales has steadfastly refused to equip his deputies with body worn cameras, there is no corroborating video record of the shooting.
“There are several common sense steps we can take to reduce police violence and increase accountability in our state,” said Maestas. “The legislature has already taken an important first step in implementing a statewide body camera law, but we must go further. In the upcoming legislative session, we must urge our representatives to pass a statewide use of force law and a state civil rights act to help ensure that no other family has to endure heartbreak like we experienced in the loss of Elisha.”
The law firm of Kennedy Kennedy & Ives with the ACLU of New México filed a civil suit against BCSO on behalf of the family, which the county swiftly moved to settle for 4 million dollars. The family has pledged to use a portion of the proceeds to advocate for improved law enforcement transparency and accountability in Bernalillo County and across the state of New México.
Billboard locations are: Paseo Del Norte NS 0.25mi W/O Jefferson Facing East (digital); I-40 SS 200ft E/O Twelfth St NW Facing West (digital); I-25 NE ES 0.22mi N/O Jefferson Facing North; I-25 WS 0.3mi S/O Gibson Facing North
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