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Family of 75-year-old grandmother killed by US police demands justice

The Beca family holds a news conference Thursday, May 12, 2022, at the Hilton Garden Inn Las Cruces.

The family of a 75-year-old woman killed by police in the US state of New Mexico has demanded criminal charges against the culprits, days after a body camera video of the deadly shooting was released.

The incident took place last month in the city of Las Cruces when police fatally shot Amelia Baca, who was suffering from dementia, according to her family.

Police claimed that an officer had encountered Baca at a residence in Las Cruces when she was holding knives. The officer eventually fired shots at her, resulting in her immediate death.

Video footage from the officer's body cam, which has now begun to circulate on social media, shows an officer asking two women to leave the house and saying he was a member of the police department.

The video shows the police officer yelling at Baca in English. Baca's family confirmed she was a Spanish speaker. The officer demands that Baca who suffered from dementia drop two knives.

Baca can then be seen stepping into the doorway while holding what appears to be two knives. The officer pulls out his gun, and fires two shots at Baca, rendering her motionless.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Baca’s family through their attorney asked for criminal charges against the police.

"Let me be blunt. Amelia Baca was executed by the Las Cruces Police Department," the family's attorney, Sam Bregman, told reporters. "As a result of this senseless tragedy, the Baca family is respectfully demanding that the district attorney charge this officer with murder."

The attorney said the police officer shot the 75-year-old grandma “twice, execution-style”.

“This yelling was all done in English. Ms. Baca is a Spanish speaker and does not understand English.”

Baca’s family will have to wait until a task force of local law enforcement departments sends their investigation to his office, according to reports, with the timeframe for the probe’s completion unclear.

For the first time after the shooting, Baca’s family agreed to talk publicly about the incident.

Perla Enriquez Baca, Baca's daughter, told reporters that her mother was an immigrant who came to the United States in her 30s. She worked until she was able to buy her own house in Las Cruces.

Her grandson, Bryan Guiterrez, was quoted as saying by Las Cruces Sun-News that the victim lived with dementia and was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time of the shooting.

"My aunt ended up calling the police so they can get an ambulance to try to get her help," Gutierrez said.

He said the family members had told the police that Baca was mentally ill while adding that Baca had the knives next to her and not in her hand when police shot her, dismissing the police claim.

Baca’s family now intends on filing at least two lawsuits, one in federal court and the other in state district court.

"We will do everything in our power to make sure that in a couple of years I'm not here with a third family that's been tragically killed by the Las Cruces Police Department," Bregman said.

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