City cites new APD policy for not allowing officer promotion

Brett Lampiris-Tremba

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city says he has no case. Now, it wants the court’s support.

The officer who shot Ken Ellis says there’s no reason he shouldn’t be allowed to promote. Brett Lampiris-Tremba shot Ken Ellis III back in 2010. He was never disciplined and he met all of the requirements for promotion to sergeant at the time. However, those requirements recently changed.

Lampiris-Tremba says there’s nothing to keep him from becoming a sergeant. He hasn’t been suspended recently and he passed the sergeant’s exam in 2013. Lampiris-Tremba filed a lawsuit, earlier this year, to make it happen.

Now, the city is fighting back.

The city says revamping the department’s policy was part of their agreement with the Department of Justice. APD Chief Gorden Eden says he also wanted to ensure promotions are based on performance, just like any other public sector job.

“We want good leaders. We want leaders who know safe and effective community, constitutional policing,” said Chief Gordon Eden.

According to the summary judgment attorneys filed last week, the old policy would require them to “promote a police officer who used excessive force.”

A judge ruled Lampiris-Tremba violated Ken Ellis’s civil rights when he shot and killed the Iraq vet as he held a gun to his own head.

The shooting cost the city $8 million. Under its 2016 policy, the judgment means the department does not have to promote Lampiris-Tremba.

The new rules make it tougher to move up the ladder. It’s now up to the chief to promote.

Chief Eden tells KRQE News 13 a committee reviews each candidate, then makes a recommendation to the chief. However, the chief has the final word as to who stays on the promotion list and who goes.

“It gives me the ability to remove them for cause and I think that’s what’s really important. It’s not the chief didn’t like this person or personality differences. I have to be able to state, in writing, exactly why,” explained Chief Eden.

The city attorney says the chief reviews the candidate’s overall history, citizen complaints, internal investigations, patterns of disciplinary action and court decisions, like Lampiris-Tremba’s.

According to the promotional policy, a candidate may not be promoted if any of those aforementioned factors “raise concerns regarding a candidate’s ability to perform supervisory and management duties consistently with effective, constitutional and community-oriented policing.”

That’s where the discretion comes in.

The same is true for the dozens of officers behind use of force settlements in cases that never go to court.

That means, if the two officers who hopped into a backyard and shot and killed Christopher Torrez after a struggle, want a promotion, the buck stops at Chief Eden. While a committee would make a recommendation, the city says the $6 million settlement, alone, would not hold the officers back.

Another change in the new policy– officers are only allowed to be on the promotional eligibility list for a year before they must re-qualify.

Eden says if a candidate is not allowed to promote, he or she may appeal the decision.

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