By Carolyn Carlson
— Kenneth Ellis Jr. and dozens of other parents, grandparents, children and friends of men killed by Albuquerque Police Department officers have showed up for every City Council meeting for two years. They urge city officials to address excessive force used by officers and say it stems from a pervasive training problem.
On Friday, a jury of Bernalillo County residents awarded more than $10 million in damages to the Ellis family. Ellis Jr.’s son, Kenneth Ellis III, was an Iraq war veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. He was fatally shot in a 2010 confrontation with SWAT-team members.
A couple of days before the verdict, Councilors Dan Lewis and Isaac Benton called for the resignation or replacement of embattled Police Chief Ray Schultz. As the Ellis trial jury deliberated, Schultz announced his plans to retire sometime between now and early fall.
Some politicos have called for the chief’s immediate resignation in light of the wrongful death verdict. All of this could make for interesting discourse at the City Council meeting this evening.
Schultz is expected to provide more details about his departure at a press conference later today.
Hopefully the Council and members of Mayor Berry’s administration, including the police chief, will pay close attention to what people have to say and give them real respect and acknowledgement. These are small gestures, but they could help avoid more million-dollar apologies from the city by way of juries.
A public apology to a bereaved family costs no money, sets no precedent, does not affect police officer morale and does not change the tenets of police training. It’s also the kind of action that must come from the top.
Tonight’s meeting agenda includes:
• The approval of 10 people who will be appointed to various city boards and commissions. There are many advisory boards, commissions and other volunteer positions to keep city government in touch with citizens, and serving on one is a good way for community members to get their civic-duty feet wet.
• Four nuisance abatement items, an authorization to sell $50 million in city bonds, and a Fire Department request for equipment that will help decrease response times and save lives.
The City Council meeting is set for 5 p.m. today, Monday, March 18, in the Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall. Watch the meeting on GOV-TV Channel 16, access a live stream at cabq.gov/govtv, or make a personal appearance and sign up for your two minutes of participation.
Correction, 3/18/13, 12:35 p.m.: A previous version of this article lacked clear distinction between news content and the reporter’s commentary. We regret the error.