Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

The ACLU-NM is calling for an independent investigation into the November 26 officer-involved shooting of 18-year-old Valley High School grad Elijah Riche. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office released body-cam footage on Tuesday, Dec. 7 which appears to show Riche was shot in the back. According to BCSO Riche was fatally shot as he was attempting to flee law enforcement after a hit and run near Edith Blvd. and Menaul Rd. NW. ACLU-NM Senior Policy Strategist Aaron Jones sees the incident as another of a long history of fatal officer-involved shootings.

“The body-camera footage of the incident that led to Elijah Riche’s death appears to show BCSO Deputy Ronald Perez shooting Riche in the back. While Riche is in possession of a gun, he does not appear to be holding it in a threatening manner or poised to fire,” Jones said.

Jones also noted that the footage released by BCSO only shows body-cam footage from Deputy Ronald Perez. Jones calls for the body-cam footage of the other officers involved in the fatal incident to be released. “The BCSO body camera footage that the department chose to release (and is all that the public has to go on) only shows Riche and does not show any of the several deputies involved. BSCO must release footage of the deputies in front of Riche, so the community can see a clear view of the deputy who fired the fatal shot. Additionally, the Office of the Attorney General should conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident, so that Riche’s family and community have an unbiased accounting of his tragic death,” Jones said.

Jones hopes that the independent investigation into the shooting will push for greater reform among law enforcement in New Mexico in the upcoming legislative session.

“This fatal shooting, along with other recent officer-involved shootings, speaks to the need for state-wide legislation for police use of force. New Mexico currently ranks number one in the nation for people killed by police, making clear that our current laws governing the use of force are failing to protect communities. We can change that by passing legislation that prevents officers and deputies from using lethal force when it is not absolutely necessary for their safety or the safety of others and when alternatives have not been exhausted,” Jones said.