Protesters Vow to Keep Pressure on Albuquerque Police

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Protesters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, plan to attend a city council meeting Thursday night, after forcing the cancellation of a meeting Monday night.

They're demanding changes in the city's police department after a scathing report from the Justice Department found a pattern of excessive force.

In mid-March, Albuquerque police killed a homeless man they accused of illegally camping after he refused to surrender. The incident was captured on camera and fueled public outrage.

It's only one of many incidents in the past four years in which police in Albuquerque have shot and killed someone.

Since 2010, 39 people have been shot by police, and 26 died-- part of a pattern of using excessive force that the Justice Department says is unconstitutional.

Local protesters accuse officials of failing to do enough in response.

"It's not a question of whether or not we trust our police department. In Albuquerque, we're afraid of it," said protester David Correia.

In a blistering report last month, the Justice Department said "police in Albuquerque are too quick to use deadly force against people who pose only a minimal threat."

The report also stated police used “inappropriate force, including Tasers, on people who are passively resisting or non-threatening” and that it used “more force than needed in handling people with mental illnesses.”

With roughly 1,000 officers, Albuquerque's police department is New Mexico's largest. Now police there find a community skeptical of every use of force.

Last weekend, police released only a short video clip after officers had shot and killed Armand Martin, a 50-year-old Air Force veteran. Police said he threatened his wife and their two children with a gun, then ran out of the house shooting.

Investigators said this video showed him with the gun inside.

Albuquerque is the latest city to face federal criticism for excessive force, as the Obama administration more aggressively polices the police.