EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez announced charges against a Las Cruces police officer on Tuesday morning, Oct. 3, during a press conference.
Torrez announced Las Cruces Police Officer Brad Lunsford was taken into custody on Tuesday morning for allegedly shooting and killing Presley Eze in August 2022.
Lunsford is charged with voluntary manslaughter with a firearm enhancement, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office said in a press release on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
On Friday afternoon, Aug. 2, 2022, Presley Eze was at the Chevron gas station located at 2645 S. Valley Dr. in Las Cruces. The gas station attendant called 911 after witnessing Eze leave the gas station with a beer he did not pay for, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Lunsford was reportedly the first officer on the scene and began questioning Eze. Lunsford was unable to verify Eze’s identity which is when Lunsford and another officer “forcibly removed Eze from the vehicle in order to detain him,” according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Eze resisted the officers’ attempt to take him into custody and was unarmed and shirtless at the time of the incident.
A “scuffle” then ensued and Eze ended up on the ground and on top of one of the responding officers.
During the ongoing struggle, Eze placed his hand on the second officer’s taser though it was not cycled or deployed against either officer, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Lunsford then “drew his service weapon and shot Eze on the back, left side of his head at point blank range,” according to the Attorney General’s Office.
The Attorney General’s Office says it consulted with the use of force experts who concluded that Lunsford’s use of deadly force was “not reasonable under the circumstances and that other, less lethal options could have been used to subdue Eze.”
Eze’s mother and father from his home state of Connecticut were present at the press conference, visibly upset but saying they are grateful for their son getting justice.
“It was done deliberately; they were prejudiced towards the color of his skin that he was a Black man,” said Eze’s mother Loretta Torres.
His father Isaac Eze said they did not receive Eze’s body until a month after his death and were unable to hold his funeral with an open casket, customary to their beliefs.
Eze leaves behind his toddler son and his wife Elena Gonzales Chavez de Eze who were both present at the press conference.
The family wants Eze to be remembered as a good man, husband and father who worked as a nurse in a nursing home.
One of family’s attorneys, Shannon Kennedy, disclosed that they have received records of Lunsford’s previous excessive force complaints, but were unable to share them.
According to the family’s attorneys, the City of Las Cruces agreed to release Lunsford’s record if they agreed not to publicly release it.
Attorneys said they would fight this in court at a later date.
KTSM found a lawsuit against Lunsford dating to September of 2022 regarding an incident form 2020.
According to court records, Lunsford is accused of falsely arresting a man in front of a Walmart in Las Cruces.
Kennedy said, according to their knowledge, Lunsford was still actively on the force patrolling the streets of Las Cruces before he was arrested Tuesday.
Torrez said the officer will, however, not be held in custody due to procedural reasons and strict evidence deadlines that are imposed in that case.
LCPD did not respond to KTSM’s request to comment as of evening of Oct. 3.