Last April 16, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, at 6:34 p.m. a woman called 911 for help as her mother, who suffered from dementia, was in the midst of a crisis and was threatening to kill her. The woman called from a room with her husband and her young daughter, and informed authorities that her other daughter was also in the house, in another room, according to the audio of the call.
About 10 minutes later the police arrived and approached the door, where two women came out, saying that the 75-year-old mother was armed with knives. One of them tells the agent to be careful.
But the policeman, who has not been identified, as soon as he saw the old woman approaching the door, carrying what appear to be two knives in her hand, points his pistol at her and begins to shout violently at her: “Throw the knives away!” Throw the f…knives! Now!” Between the shouts of the policeman, the other two women are heard crying out please, not like that, that she is a sick woman.
The old woman, not knowing very well what to do, apparently motions for him to lower the weapon, then transfers the knives to his left hand, makes gestures, it seems that he is articulating something that is not heard and when he pretends that he is going to give a step towards the agent, he receives two shots from the policeman that end his life. Then the screams of the two women, who were apart outside the house, are heard.
The shocking sequence of images can be seen in the police body camera video, which was released this week, while an investigation into the events is ongoing. According to CBS4, the agent was placed on administrative leave while the facts are analyzed.
An immigrant with dementia: the old woman shot down by a police officer
The deceased, 75 years old, was called Amelia Baca and was a native of Chihuahua, Mexico. She came to the United States in her thirties and worked in the fields. As her daughter Perla Enríquez Baca told the local channel CBS4 through tears, “she worked in the fields, she took care of other people’s children, she worked very hard, you know, to be able to be in that little house that she bought with a lot of effort, and that now die in that place like this…”
Bryan Gutiérrez, Amelia Baca’s grandson, told local media that his grandmother was living with dementia and that at the time of the shooting she was going through a mental health crisis.
“My aunt ended up calling the police to get an ambulance and try to get help,” Gutierrez said. However, the policeman who responded to her call ended up fatally shooting the old woman.
The family demands that the police officer be charged with murder
This Thursday, the Baca family gave a press conference in which they demanded that the police officer involved in the death of the old woman be charged with murder.
“As a result of this senseless tragedy, the Baca family respectfully demands that the district attorney charge this officer with murder,” said Sam Bregman, the family’s attorney, explaining that lawsuits are being filed at the state level, both against the Las Cruces Police Department as against the police officer responsible. They are also suing the officer at the federal level, he said.
“It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, you can’t walk up to someone’s doorstep when they’re having a mental health crisis, they have dementia, and shoot them after yelling at them for 38 seconds,” Bregman said.
During the conference, the video of the policeman’s body camera was played, which sparked tears and indignation among the relatives present.