ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A state district judge ruled against the city of Albuquerque Wednesday in a high-profile and fatal police shooting case.
In 2010 Albuquerque Police Department Officer Bret Lampiris-Tremba killed Kenneth Ellis Jr. outside a Northeast Heights convenience store.
Ellis, an Iraq war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, was pointing a gun at his own head and negotiating with a crisis-intervention officer when Lampiris-Tremba suddenly shot him.
The city independent review officer ruled he should not have fired, but the citizen review commission later ruled the shooting justified.
However, at a hearing Wednesday on a lawsuit filed by Ellis' family, District Judge Shannon Bacon ruled that Ellis posed no threat to anyone and that the shooting violated his constitutional rights:
"This is just a huge hurdle in the big picture," Kenneth Ellis Sr. said after the hearing. "We've got a long ways to go yet.
"The man who shot and killed my son needs to be held accountable for his actions."
A statement from the city criticized the judge's ruling and insists Ellis did pose an immediate threat.
The ruling means that when the family's lawsuit goes to trial, the jury will be told that the judge has already ruled the shooting was unjustified, which could set the stage for massive damages.
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