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Manslaughter Charge Against NM Officer In Death Of Black Man

New Mexico's top law enforcement official announced that a police officer has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the killing of a Black man at a gas station last summer, NBC News reports. New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez said Las Cruces Officer Brad Lunsford was booked Tuesday, but officials did not detain him. Lunsford allegedly shot Presley Eze at a gas station after an employee called 911 to report that Eze had left the store without paying for a beer. Once arriving on scene, Lunsford questioned Eze and, after he was "unable to verify Eze's identity," the officer "forcibly removed Eze from the vehicle in order to detain him," the attorney general's office said. Eze, who was unarmed, allegedly resisted attempts to take him into custody. The attorney general's office said a "scuffle ensued," with Eze ending up on the ground, on top of one of the officers who responded. Eze put his hand on the second officer's taser and, in response, Lunsford pulled out his gun and shot Eze on the left side of his head at point-blank range.

Eze was the oldest son of Nigerian immigrants who lived in Connecticut. The attorney general's office investigated the killing, consulting with experts on the use of force who reviewed body camera footage and determined that the officer's use of deadly force was "not reasonable under the circumstances." "The killing of Presley Eze is a tragedy and serves as yet another example of poor police tactics resulting in an unjustifiable use of force to subdue an individual resisting arrest for the commission of a minor crime," Torrez said. Police killings of Black people across the U.S. have drawn wide attention, leading to waves of social justice protests and renewing attention on allegations of police brutality.


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