Cops’ fist bump after killing restrained suspect ignites outrage

Images of Ben Anthony C de Baca at hands of police (Photo Credit: Bernalillo Santa Ana Pueblo Police Department)
Images of Ben Anthony C de Baca at hands of police (Photo credit: Bernalillo Santa Ana Pueblo Police Department)

According to the family of Ben Anthony C de Baca, 47, their loved one died at the hands of uncaring police officers in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, in September 2015. De Baca had a history of mental illness and was acting erratically at a Wal-Mart when police were called to the scene. Earlier in the day, de Baca crashed his truck into another vehicle after an argument with his wife, and was later restrained by Wal-Mart customers after he started to destroy merchandise. During the police encounter, de Baca bit one of the officers and a device known as a spit-sock was placed over his face to restrain him.

Bodycam footage of the encounter released by the Bernalillo Santa Ana Pueblo Police Department s sparking outrage. The officers are heard joking and cursing as de Baca is heard yelling, “I can’t breathe.” The unidentified officers state, “This c— f—ing bit the f—out of me, I had to punch his a– off me.”

Later, the officers realize that de Baca has become unresponsive and one is heard saying, “I f—ing hate it when people put us in a position like this.” Two officers are then seen on camera fist bumping after de Baca is clearly dead. De Baca’s death, on Sept. 6, 2015 was ruled a homicide from “excited delirium,” which was complicated “by means of physical restraint.” The two officers involved in the arrest were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Rio Rancho Police Department.

Images of Ben Anthony C de Baca at hands of police (Photo Credit: Bernalillo Santa Ana Pueblo Police Department)
Images of Ben Anthony C de Baca at hands of police (Photo Credit: Bernalillo Santa Ana Pueblo Police Department)

The attorney for de Baca’s family, Ahmad Assed, has stated that a spit-sock is not to be used on a suspect for biting; further, an improperly placed spit-sock resulted in de Baca’s death. Assad stated to the media,“They used it in a different fashion than in the training I hope they received. I doubt they received any training. If there was training, it certainly wasn’t consistent with how they used it.”

The family is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the officers and the police department.

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.

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