Police in New Mexico have released disturbing body camera footage showing an officer fatally shooting a 75-year-old woman with dementia in her home last month.
Warning to readers: The video, below, is graphic and disturbing.
The woman, Amelia Baca, had become agitated at family members in the Las Cruces home when her daughter called the police for help on April 16. According to family members, Baca was having a mental health crisis.
In body camera video released Tuesday by the city of Las Cruces in response to a public records request, an officer can be seen pointing a gun at Baca through the doorway of the home moments after arriving on the scene.
Baca, who family members said did not speak English, is holding two kitchen knives and shouting in Spanish.
The officer repeatedly shouts at her in English to “drop the knife,” “drop the fucking knife,” “do it now.” After 38 seconds, he tells her to “put the fucking knife down” and fires two shots at her.
She died at the scene.
The video is below. It is graphic.
The body camera footage begins with the officer arriving at the house. As he approaches the front door, he asks two women — Baca’s daughter and grandmother — to step outside.
The granddaughter, Albitar Inoh, tells the officer, “please be very careful with her,” as she passes him.
Baca then appears in the doorway holding knives in each hand. He points his pistol at Baca and begins shouting for her to drop the knife.
Last month, police released a narrated video containing redacted portions of the 911 call and a very small portion of the body camera video of the officer arriving on the scene.
In the 911 call, Baca’s daughter tells the dispatcher: “I really need an officer or an ambulance or someone because my mother is getting really aggressive.”
“I’m hiding in a room because she’s threatening to kill me,” she said. She told the dispatcher her mother had dementia.
The Las Cruces police officer’s identity has not been made public. He has reportedly been placed on administrative leave.
Baca’s family announced Thursday they plan to file civil lawsuits against the city and police department. They have also demanded that the district attorney charge the officer with murder.
“Let me be blunt. Amelia Baca was executed by the Las Cruces Police Department,” the family’s attorney, Sam Bregman, told reporters, according to the Las Cruces Sun News. “As a result of this senseless tragedy, the Baca family is respectfully demanding that the district attorney charge this officer with murder.”
“You can’t walk up to someone’s front door when they’re having a mental health crisis … and shoot them after yelling at them for 38 seconds,” Bregman said.
Shortly after the news conference, the city said in a statement that it couldn’t comment, the Sun News reported.
“First, we do not take critical incidents such as this lightly, especially when there is a loss of life,” the statement said. “We, again, extend our sympathies to the family and friends of Amelia Baca. Any loss of life, no matter the circumstances, is tragic.”
A task force of local law enforcement departments are investigating and will send findings to District Attorney Gerald Byers.