ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The family of a passenger shot and killed by a Bernalillo County deputy following a chase has hired a high-profile attorney and they’re suing.
Attorney Sam Bregman called the Nov. 17 shooting “murder,” and joined the chorus of critics who say it’s high-time the sheriff puts cameras on his deputies.
“We’ve had a lot of attention, (a) great deal of attention paid to APD, but I think the light needs to shine a little bit on BCSO, as well,” Bregman said.
Bregman spoke about Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department shooting at a news conference he held at his office in downtown Albuquerque Tuesday. The attorney is now representing one of the two people killed following the high-speed car chase turned deputy-involved shooting near Coors and Glenrio. He says the shooting was unjustified and reckless.
“We’ve obviously got some cowboys out there that want to run up to trucks and just start shooting,” Bregman said, referring to the Nov. 17 shooting.
That shooting resulted in the death of 25-year-old Martin Jim, a passenger and one of two people in the stolen truck who was shot and killed after BCSO deputies performed a PIT maneuver.
According to Bregman, Jim was sitting behind the driver and unable to get out of the vehicle.
“Someone tell me what Mr. Jim did to deserve five bullet holes through him?” Bregman asked.
BCSO said Deputy Joshua Mora, BCSO Undersheriff Rody Mora’s son, fired seven shots at the truck because he feared the driver might use the vehicle as a weapon.
“The threat was him being in the vehicle revving it and him not complying and driving recklessly and all his careless actions prior to him getting on the scene,” Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said at a Nov. 28 news conference.
However, Sheriff Manny Gonzales also took the extra step at that news conference to publicly offer words to the family of passenger Martin Jim.
“Our condolences go out to Martin Jim’s family,” said Sheriff Gonzales at the Nov. 28 news conference.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday states Deputy Mora had no reason to believe Jim committed a crime and that Mora’s use of force was “intentional.”
“This is just shooting wildly into a truck,” said Bregman. “Deputy Mora unloaded seven rounds into a truck knowing there was passengers.”
The new lawsuit marks the third lawsuit filed against BCSO in the past month. The first lawsuit surrounds allegations that a homeowner was beaten by deputies during a raid. The second lawsuit alleges the use of racial profiling in traffic stops.
Bregman claims if BCSO had body cameras, there would be a lot fewer unknowns about what led up to the shooting, adding there’s no proof Jim posed a threat and had no weapons on him.
“They certainly maybe give you another perspective to look at and what we have right now is an officer or deputy who says, ‘Oh, I felt threatened,”” Bregman said.
Bregman also had a message for court lawmakers about the department’s refusal to use body cameras.
“Someone needs to remind the county commissioners that they hold the purse strings and its time to demand cameras,” Bregman said.
Jim had no criminal convictions on his record and leaves behind a girlfriend with whom he shared a 4-year-old son.
Bregman said he plans to reach out to the state Attorney General’s office to charge Deputy Mora with murder.
After standing firm against getting cameras, Sheriff Gonzales said last month he’ll consider getting dashcams, but still says there’s no proof they’ll do any good.
BCSO released the following statement Tuesday about the news conference:
A multi-jurisdictional Officer Involved Shooting Investigative Team comprised of the New Mexico State Police, Rio Rancho Police Department, Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, and Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the deputy involved shooting, which took place on November 17, 2017. This comprehensive investigation is underway, but far from complete. Although the investigation is ongoing, Mr. Bregman chose to file a lawsuit and made a number of allegations about the events which occurred during the incident. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office will wait to address the allegations raised by Mr. Bregman during the judicial and/or litigation process.