2007 – Delayo v. RCC (Private Prison)- Deliberate Indifference to Medical Care of Inmate
July 10, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
A former detainee at the Regional Correctional Center is suing the private company that runs the Downtown Albuquerque lockup, saying he didn't get adequate medical care after he fractured his jaw playing handball. According to his lawsuit, Robert Delayo hurt himself Jan. 1, 2006, and was taken to the Albuquerque Regional Medical Center, where he received X-rays that showed a fracture. A physician told him he should follow up with an oral surgeon within two or three days. It wasn't until Jan. 27 that Delayo saw an oral surgeon, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque alleges Cornell Companies Inc., a former warden, and the head of the jail's Health Services Center knew about Delayo's condition but "made no effort to obtain adequate and timely medical treatment for Mr. Delayo." The lawsuit also names Bernalillo County, which owns the jail and leases it to Cornell. Public Safety Director John Dantis said it's up to Cornell to handle the claim. "The county's response is that it's a Cornell issue. They are the operators," he said. Charles Seigel, a consultant for Cornell, said the company can't comment on the case, but defended the jail's health care. "We do provide an excellent health program, available to detainees in the facility," he said. One of Delayo's lawyers, Frances Crockett, said she has also heard other concerns about medical treatment at the lockup. "It seems to be an epidemic that's going on around the country, and in part with the RCC, of prisoners not receiving adequate medical care," she said. Delayo's lawsuit says he suffered and continues to suffer extreme physical and mental pain from the injury. It also asks for monetary damages in an amount to be determined at trial, as well as lawyer's fees. Crockett did not provide details of what led to Delayo's incarceration. Federal court records show Robert Delayo, 43, was indicted in connection with a Jan. 25, 2005, bank robbery of the Wells Fargo Bank at 1800 Eubank Blvd. N.E. He later pleaded guilty to federal charges of use of a firearm during a crime and aiding and abetting.
Other attorneys, including some from the American Civil Liberties Union, have collected complaints from detainees about crowding, poor medical care and unsanitary conditions inside the jail. Bernalillo County, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement all have contracts to house detainees inside the facility at Fourth Street and Roma Avenue Northwest in Downtown. Cornell officials gave a tour of the jail earlier this month to two reporters, and defended the medical care, calling it "superb." The Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General also has its eye on the jail after a detainee of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in September died at an Albuquerque hospital while in the custody of the RCC. The ACLU has asked the federal government for more information about immigrant detainees who have died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The group says 62 have died since 2004 and has filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking details.
In 2008 Mr. Delayo settled all of his claims against all named Defendants for $47,500.00.
2008 – Canizales v. City of Albuquerque: Excessive Force
August 2008-The Albuquerque Journal
By Scott Sandlin
ALBUQUERQUE — Saul Canizales resigned as a State Police officer after a May 2005 confrontation outside a bar with off-duty Albuquerque Police Department officers led to battery charges. The charges were later dropped.
Canizales won another measure of vindication in federal court Thursday when a jury found the APD officers had wrongfully arrested him, used excessive force against him and violated his Fourth Amendment rights with malicious prosecution.
A civil jury hearing a lawsuit brought by Canizales against Sgt. Todd Armendariz, Officers Angelo Lovato and Shawn Willoughby and Sgt. Mark Garcia cleared Armendariz and found liability for the others.
The jury, which heard testimony before U.S. District Judge James O. Browning, awarded him a total of $35,000 in damages - $20,000 compensatory damages and $5,000 in punitives against each of the others.
Canizales was leaving the bar with a friend and fellow State Police officer when he became involved in a verbal exchange and found himself criminally charged by the APD officers.
Canizales was forced to resign his position and hire an attorney. Although the charges were dropped by the District Attorney's Office, the media exposure of the incident made it difficult for him to find another job, said his attorney, Frances Crockett. "My client was wrongfully abused, detained, arrested, and as a result has suffered greatly at the hands of these officers who believe they are above the law," she said when she filed the lawsuit in 2007.
CASE SUMMARY: Civil Rights Section 1983: Warrantless Entry, Illegal Seizure, and Excessive Force as well as State Law claims of Assault and Battery and Negligent Supervision, Retention, and Hiring.
PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Appellant arrestees sought review of a decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, which granted summary judgment for appellee police officers on the basis of qualified immunity in the arrestees' lawsuit alleging that they were unlawfully seized and the home belonging to one of them was unlawfully searched during a confrontation concerning a child welfare check, which was based on the officers' response to a 911 call.
OVERVIEW: An officer knocked at the door and displayed a gun when the owner challenged her. The owner's girlfriend stepped between the owner and the officer; when she exited the home, she was arrested and handcuffed without questioning. The owner was arrested and handcuffed when he stepped outside the home. He contended that the officers used unreasonable force, resulting in injuries, and searched his home before letting him go. On appeal, the court found that the officer effectuated a reasonable seizure in pointing a gun at the owner because she had a reasonable concern about her safety. The girlfriend was not illegally seized when she positioned herself between the owner and officer. However, handcuffing the girlfriend was not a reasonable seizure, and the owner's seizure was not justified since at that time, the officers did not have a basis to believe he had done anything wrong, he did not pose a threat, and there were no exigent circumstances. The owner also sufficiently stated an unreasonable force claim and an unreasonable search. As these Fourth Amendment rights were clearly established, the officers were erroneously granted summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity.
OUTCOME: The court concluded that for the most part, the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity and should not have been granted summary judgment. The court affirmed the district court's qualified immunity decision regarding the seizures based on a display of a weapon at the home's front door, but otherwise reversed the district court's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings on the arrestees' claims.
The case was set for trial and on April 20, 2012 a Federal Court Jury, after listening to testimony and reviewing the evidence presented, found in favor of Plaintiffs and awarded Joseph Lundstrom $100,000.00 in damages and Jane Hibner $75,000.00 in damages.
2013 Dr. Mark Walden/Corizon Medical Services and GEO Private Prison – Prison Sexual Abuse
2014 Estate of Kenneth Ellis v. City of Albuquerque – Police Shooting
A state District Court jury is about to make New Mexico history, continuing deliberations today in the first criminal prosecution of Albuquerque police officers in 50 years for an on-duty shooting of a citizen.
But both the prosecution and the defense told jurors Thursday in closing arguments that there was even more at stake when they decide whether former APD officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez are guilty of second-degree murder in the March 16, 2014, fatal shooting of homeless camper James Boyd in the Sandia foothills.
The verdict will send a message that could affect police relations, police recruitment, the treatment of the mentally ill and police practices, the attorneys predicted in closing arguments.
A Bernalillo County jury on Friday awarded more than $10 million in damages in a civil lawsuit filed by the family of Kenneth Ellis III, an Iraq war veteran who was shot once in the neck by APD Detective Brett Lampiris-Tremba.
The verdict includes $2.7 million in punitive damages against Lampiris-Tremba and damages of $7.6 million against the city.
Kenneth Ellis II waits for a verdict from the jury in an Albuquerque courtroom Friday, March 15, 2013.
Journal reporter Jeff Proctor is in the courtroom at the Ellis trial. He will be live tweeting and filing updates on this page.
This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal on 3/15/13
A Bernalillo County jury on Thursday wrestled for about four hours with several questions related to a 2010 fatal police shooting – chief among them how much money the city of Albuquerque must pay the 7-year-old son of the man who was killed.
The jury began deliberations about 1 p.m. in the civil lawsuit filed by the family of Kenneth Ellis III, an Iraq war veteran who was shot once in the neck by APD Detective Brett Lampiris-Tremba. Ellis was holding a gun to his own head in a standoff with officers.
State District Judge Shannon Bacon sent the jurors home about 5 p.m. They are set to resume deliberations this morning.
The key question is how much the jury will award in damages, because Bacon ruled before the trial began that an officer making objectively reasonable decisions wouldn’t have shot Ellis – that as a matter of law, Lampiris-Tremba used excessive force.
Bacon, during the course of the trial, has also dismissed three claims: for punitive damages against a second officer, one alleging the city was negligent in training Lampiris-Tremba and a third claiming violation of Ellis’ rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
That leaves the jury to decide the amount of damages, whether the city was negligent in hiring, supervising and retaining Lampiris-Tremba and whether another officer violated Ellis’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure in stopping him that day.
Testimony from plaintiffs’ experts has estimated potential damages in excess of $7 million.
Jurors heard closing arguments from attorneys for the city and for the Ellis family as the trial wound to a close.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Shannon Kennedy began her argument by telling jurors that APD officers testifying in the case “have told you many lies.”
“The plaintiffs have shown you the truth,” Kennedy said.
Reiterating points from her opening statement from last week, Kennedy summarized the Ellis family’s claims as follows: who, besides Lampiris-Tremba, is responsible for Ellis’ death; what is the price of the 25-year-old’s life; and should Lampiris-Tremba be punished as a deterrent to future unlawful police shootings.
In her closing argument, Deputy City Attorney Kathy Levy repeated Lampiris-Tremba’s testimony, saying he made “the best decision he could” during a highly dangerous situation in front of an open-for-business convenience store at a busy Northeast Albuquerque intersection. She added that Lampiris-Tremba “accepts and understands the court’s decision” that the shooting was unlawful.
The veteran detective “will live knowing that the decision he made … was the wrong one,” Levy said, arguing against an award from the jury of punitive damages. “That is a lifetime punishment.”
Levy argued that APD officer Byron “Trey” Economidy’s stop of Ellis’ vehicle as part of an auto theft investigation – which preceded the shooting – was perfectly legal.
One of the plaintiffs’ claims is that Economidy violated Ellis’ Fourth Amendment rights when he pinned Ellis’ Corvette into a parking space in front of the 7-Eleven at Constitution and Eubank NE.
During rebuttal argument Thursday, Frances Carpenter, another of the Ellises’ attorneys, told jurors that both Economidy and Lampiris-Tremba had testified that police didn’t have probable cause to stop Ellis.
“That’s an easy one for you guys,” she told the jury.
Among the plaintiffs’ other claims is that the city was negligent in hiring and supervising Lampiris-Tremba and in keeping him on the force. The family’s expert on police practices testified last week that a series of incidents that should have kept him from being a police officer.
Before he was hired in 1997, Lampiris-Tremba used a fake ID to buy alcohol while he was in the Marines. He also lied on his 1992 application about previous marijuana use.
Arguing against those claims, Levy said Lampiris-Tremba “bared his soul” during the hiring process in 1997. It had been the second time he tried to become an Albuquerque cop after being rejected in 1992.
Referring to testimony from the plaintiffs’ expert, Levy said: “He would have you believe that the mistakes of your youth should hurt you forever. That is not the philosophy of the Albuquerque Police Department.”
There were incidents after he was hired in 1997 that should have led to Lampiris-Tremba’s termination, the plaintiffs’ expert testified, including forging a supervisor’s initials in a log book for days off, then lying to an APD sergeant about it in 2002.
Levy pointed out in her closing argument that Lampiris-Tremba was disciplined for the infraction – he was suspended for a day – and that the people who knew him at APD stood by him.
She also addressed discrepancies in statements Lampiris-Tremba had given investigators about why he shot Ellis – primarily that he had never mentioned a step Ellis allegedly took toward another officer until the civil proceedings.
Levy brushed off the discrepancies, saying Lampiris-Tremba had been emotionally distraught when he gave the first statement the day after the shooting. He gave the second statement – and also left out the step toward an officer on that occasion – nearly a year later.
In her rebuttal, Carpenter said the changing stories for why Lampiris-Tremba pulled the trigger constituted further evidence of his inability to tell the truth.
“Once a liar, always a liar,” she said. “And with Brett Lampiris-Tremba, we see that time and time and time again … Judgment is the key to this case, and Brett Lampiris-Tremba has never exercised good judgment.”
Carpenter closed by admonishing the jury as to the weight of the case.
“In this country, there have been cases that have shaped the community,” she said. “This is one of those cases. This is that case.” — This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal
“Suicide by Cop” Lawsuit Filed Albuquerque Journal Saturday, May 29, 2010
A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the family of an Iraq war veteran who was fatally shot by a police officer outside a Northeast Albuquerque convenience store.
The suit, filed Friday, names the city of Albuquerque and seeks unspecified compensatory damages and costs. Albuquerque public safety spokesman T.J. Wilham said the department would reserve comment until city attorneys had a chance to review the lawsuit.
On Jan 13, APD Det. Bret Lampiris-Tremba shot 25-year-old Kenneth Ellis during a standoff outside the store at Eubank and Constitution NE. Ellis had been an infantryman with the US Army, said his mother, Annelle Wharton.
Authorities called the incident “suicide by cop” at the time.
The lawsuit, filed by the Kennedy Law Firm and the Law Office of Frances Crockett, alleges in two separate counts that the city of Albuquerque was responsible for: “wrongful death due to batter and negligent batter” and “negligent training, supervision and retention.”
Jonelle Ellis and her brother, Kenneth Ellis III, who was killed a year ago by Albuquerque police
Jonelle Ellis hasn’t done much public speaking. She's never been involved in politics. But for the last six months or so, she's helped create a bill and convinced legislators in Santa Fe to carry it.
Kenneth Ellis III served in the Army. His father says members of his unit called him Cowboy.
Ellis' brother, a 25-year-old Iraq War veteran, was shot and killed a year ago on Jan. 13, 2010, by Albuquerque police. Kenneth Ellis III stepped out of his car with a gun to his head in front of the 7-Eleven at Constitution and Eubank.
She'd talked to her baby brother just a few days earlier. He wanted to go to the movies. "He was telling me about his son and his life," she says. "He was very positive. It's hard to listen to them say 'suicide by cop.' ”
Jonelle, a Veterans Affairs nurse, says her brother suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and couldn't sleep because of hideous nightmares. "He was active in trying to survive mentally what he had gone through in Iraq." He was doing all the right things to get better, she adds.
The Kenneth Ellis III Act seeks to beef up crisis intervention training for law enforcement officers and emphasizes how they handle people with mental impairments. The training would be mandatory statewide for 911 personnel and police—cadets and longtime officers alike. 2010 saw a spike in the number of officer-involved shootings in Albuquerque; 14 people were shot, and nine of them died. If it’s passed, the legislation will go into effect on July 1.
Frances Crockett is a civil rights lawyer who, along with attorneys Shannon and Joe Kennedy, filed a wrongful death lawsuit for the Ellises in late May. Crockett drafted the legislation after researching other programs around the country. She spoke with the officers who teach Houston's crisis curriculum, and they said the additional education made a big difference in how the police force responds to calls. “Its been a tremendous benefit, because it provides officers with a better understanding about mental illness,” says Frank Webb, a senior officer with Houston’s training program. “It teaches them the tactics and techniques for safely handling someone in a state of crisis.”
"He was telling me about his son and his life. He was very positive. It's hard to listen to them say 'suicide by cop.' ” Jonelle Ellis
The training in Albuquerque is "bare bones," Crockett says, so the measure aims to add on to what's already in place. Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz says the department already does more crisis education than what’s called for in the bill. Crockett says the training the bill requires would be more focused.
Albuquerque cadets typically spend 30 of 900 training hours on crisis intervention and de-escalation, according to Lt. Ray Torres, director of training at the police academy. A few months ago, Torres said APD was anticipating that a measure such as this would come out of the 2011 session [Newscity, " Is There a Silver Bullet?," Oct. 7-13, 2010]. When he spoke with the Alibi in October, he said 125 of the department's nearly 1,100 officers were certified in crisis intervention. As things stand, New Mexico doesn't have mandatory crisis preparation for law enforcement.
After Crockett and the Kennedys did the research and wrote up the legislation, Jonelle began drumming up support. "I've never worked on anything like this," she says. "It is definitely eye-opening. It's going to show that when things aren't right, it doesn't take an entire group to make a difference. It just takes one person to speak up."
First, she talked with her colleagues at the VA. Eventually, she testified in front of the Legislature's Military and Veterans Affairs' Committee. She suggested that additional education would improve the situation for vets suffering from PTSD. She gained the committee's support, and Rep. Edward C. Sandoval will carry the act into the session that begins Tuesday, Jan. 18. As of press time, the measure hadn't yet been filed.
Sandoval, who's represented an Albuquerque district since 1983, says he expects the bill to generate good discussion. "I think it's got a shot," he says. "It's the right thing to do at this point." Though it might require some funding and times are tight, if it's a small amount, he says, the act should survive. "Hopefully, we can make our case."
It shouldn't cost much since it's supplementing officer education that's already in place, Crockett says. "We don't think it's going to be a big strain."
Crockett says she'd be surprised if the police department put up a fight over the Ellis Act. "I don't see how they can disagree with us on this," she says. "For citizens to be as outraged as they are, for APD to be getting this much bad publicity, there is a problem."
Jonelle Ellis makes a point of saying that this isn't an anti-police bill. "They're good people," she says. "It's not that there's bad cops and good cops, it's just that we've got to train people. Education is power. And if they don't have the education, they're going to make mistakes." She adds that she hopes the measure will make a difference, maybe even for APD officers. "A lot of our police department is coming back from Iraq, or served in the National Guard, and they suffer from PTSD also. Maybe they'll seek out treatment they thought they didn't need."
Crockett and Ellis agree that this act doesn't solve everything, but both say "it's a good start."
2015 - Mark Martinez v. Bernalillo County Detention Center – Taser case