Reports of New Mexico civilians being mistreated and even shot by police officers have become all too common. Just some of the misconduct allegations that have been raised against New Mexico’s police force include false arrest, racial profiling, false imprisonment and manufacturing evidence. In some cases, unarmed citizens have even been shot.
This is what happened to 24-year-old Anthony Benavidez. In an attempt to seek justice, his family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their fallen loved one. Benavidez’s family filed the complaint on November 13th in state District Court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, after a months-long attempt to hold the Santa Fe Police Department accountable for its officers’ actions.
Benavidez was a 24-year-old man who struggled with schizophrenia. On July 19, he stabbed his mental health caseworker and threw several objects through his bedroom window. Though he posed no deadly threat to police, the officers on site fired no fewer than 17 shots at him through his apartment window, killing the young man. His family claims that the police immediately used unnecessary violence instead of conflict de-escalation techniques that could have saved Anthony’s life.
Their lawsuit names the city of Santa Fe as the defendant in one claim of battery and another of negligence causing battery. The suit also requests that the judge order the city of Santa Fe to adopt new policies regarding training and monitoring cops. The family’s complaint also cites a statistic reported by The New Mexican that only 40 percent of Santa Fe’s police force had completed state-mandated crisis intervention training.
Although it seems that an event this traumatic could never happen to one of our own loved ones, the truth is that police brutality could affect anyone in New Mexico. Sometimes the only legal recourse is to file a wrongful death lawsuit, as in the case of Anthony Benavidez. It is important for families of wrongful death victims to know that they are not alone, and there are advocates who are willing to work for justice alongside them.