“Show me your hands, get down now!” Chaves County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ricardo Delagado shouted from the back of a pickup truck while pointing a gun at Oscar Najera in June 2021. Moments later, Delgado and fellow deputy Raul Ramos shot dead Najara.
Today, April 6, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU) and Ives & Flores, PA filed two lawsuits: one against the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) and one against the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy (LEA).
CCSO deputies Ricardo Delgado and Raul Ramos were responding to a 911 call from Najera’s girlfriend alleging a domestic altercation earlier in the day, the ACLU said. Seconds after arriving, Deputies Delgado and Ramos shouted orders at Najera, then shot him repeatedly, killing him.
It is the first time in recent memory that the family of a man killed by police has attempted to blame it on the LEA, the organization responsible for ensuring all certified law enforcement officers are properly certified. trained and qualified to patrol the streets. As previously reported by The paper.for years, the LEA did not fully complete agent training or require compliance with legislative mandates for agents to remain certified.
In a 23-page filing in the First Judicial District Court, the ACLU and Ives & Flores detail several misconduct dismissals by the LEA, including an excessive force misconduct report previously filed against Delgado.
“According to LEA member Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza, the LEA never reviews the video and relies only on written reports,” the lawsuit reads, a reference to the previous report by The paper. “Furthermore, Sheriff Mendoza explains that the LEA only has the authority to discipline law enforcement officers who have used excessive force if that force is manifestly excessive or shocks the conscience.[ness] members of the LEA.
Additionally, the lawsuit details an alleged practice at the CCSO of hiring officers accused of misconduct and not training them. According to the lawsuits, there has been an increase in the number of shootings since Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington took office.
Also noted in the lawsuit is Herrington’s use of social media to declare the shootings justified.
“Sheriff Herrington’s practice has been to declare immediately and without investigation that the CCSO shootings are justified, generally on Facebook and generally in the comments section,” the suits state.
Herrington is an avid social media user. he recently used the county’s social media page to support one of his own employees in a magistrate judge campaign, as previously reported.
“Najera’s murder is the culmination of many CCSO and LEA failures and displays a systemic problem throughout our state,” said Barron Jones, senior political strategist at the ACLU of New Mexico. “It is long overdue that deadly encounters with officers such as this are handled with proper oversight and accountability.”
There will certainly be more to come, with another CCSO shooting on March 27, which left David Aguilera dead. Herrington posted a photo of Aguilera’s driver’s license on the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, along with a video indicating that two deputies were involved in the murder. Herrington said he called in the New Mexico State Police and the Roswell Police Department to investigate the incident. The paper. is still awaiting the requested records detailing this incident.
“Tabitha Clay’s reporting was instrumental in exposing an astonishing dysfunction within the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Council. It is the only agency that serves to police the police, and it is a failure for New Mexicans,” said Laura Shauer-Ives of Ives & Flores, PA. “My clients are extremely grateful for her work and know that the only hope for change comes from knowing what needs to be changed.”
Watch backhand videos posted by the ACLU here.