City files motion to be left out of a police shooting lawsuit

Albuquerque City Hall
Albuquerque City Hall

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Department wants to be left out of a police shooting lawsuit that happened back in 2010, and now it’s in the hands of a federal judge.

The City of Albuquerque has paid out tens-of-millions of dollars in lawsuits over the past few years, now it’s trying a different strategy.

On Wednesday, the city filed a motion asking the judge to take APD out of the lawsuit that involves one of its officers.

Back in 2010, officers were dispatched to a home where the caller said her mentally disabled brother-in-law was threatening to harm himself with a knife. APD said that man was Russell Tenorio.

About 10 minutes after the call came in, four officers went in the home with their weapons drawn. As one of them Tased the mentally disabled man, Officer Brian Pitzer shot him in the stomach.

Tenorio survived the shooting.

He filed a lawsuit against Pitzer and the city two years later. It’s now in federal court

In its motion, the city wants Pitzer tried with no mention of the department’s past problems with hiring, training and supervision.

“The city wants Brian Pitzer tried in a vacuum, as though he works for a perfectly normal police department which is not under investigation by the Department of Justice,” Rachel Higgins said.

Higgins represents Tenorio.

“The city doesn’t want Pitzer’s actions analyzed by a jury in a context of being employed by a department that we contend does not provide adequate training for people who are mentally ill,” she said.

The city argues “a single trial on both the municipal claim and the excessive force claim against Officer Pitzer will only invite confusion, create unfair prejudice as well as mislead the jury.”

Part of the motion is also about Pitzer’s past. The city doesn’t want any mention in court of Pitzer’s other two shootings or an alleged kick to the face.

Those examples could be used to attack APD’s track record of monitoring and investigating of its own officers.

According to the department, Pitzer is now a detective.

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