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City of Las Cruces confirms police killed 75-year-old as ACLU calls for investigation

UPDATE #1, TUESDAY - The city of Las Cruces confirmed on Tuesday that police shot and killed a 75-year-old woman on Saturday night.

In the city's news release, a spokeswoman named the woman killed as 75-year-old Amelia Baca. Family members had previously told ABC-7 that the woman's name was Amelia Vaca.

"Any loss of life, no matter the circumstances, is tragic and unfortunate," wrote Ifo Pili, a city manager, in a statement. "On behalf of the City of Las Cruces, we extend our deepest sympathies to Amelia Baca’s family and to those who are mourning her loss."

The city confirmed that a task force of regional officers is investigating the incident, but would not comment further as the investigation continues.

ORIGINAL STORY, TUESDAY: LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico is calling for an investigation into Saturday's fatal shooting of an elderly woman by a Las Cruces police officer.

As ABC-7 reported on Saturday, the Las Cruces Police Department informed the public of an officer-involved incident, which a spokesman confirmed was a shooting. On Sunday, family members approached KVIA and said that their 75-year-old grandmother, Amelia Vaca, was shot and killed by police.

After ABC-7 made multiple phone calls to the city of Las Cruces and the police department, the city confirmed the shooting death of a woman 42 hours after the incident happened. The news release did not include the woman's name or age, so ABC-7 approached Chief Miguel Dominguez at city council with questions.

He would not confirm her age, but he did say the person shot was an elderly woman. According to the city, the woman shot had a knife and was threatening to kill someone in the home.

“LCPD is one of the few local departments that has a crisis intervention team meant to prevent these types of tragedies," wrote a senior policy strategist with the ACLU of New Mexico. "If this team had been deployed to de-escalate the situation, Vaca may still be alive today and receiving the help she needed."

Vaca's family said she was mentally disabled and had dementia. They did not address the details of the shooting, but said they never imagined she would die this way.

“It’s like we lost a leader," said her grandson, Michael Gutierrez. "She was the top of everybody and now we just have to carry on and stay strong.”

ABC-7 has reached out to the city of Las Cruces and the police department for comment.

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Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is a former ABC-7 New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and weekend evening newscast anchor.


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