Last updated: about 2 months ago
The story begins with Fidencio Duran, who had been married to his wife, Mable, for 67 years. After a three-year battle with an illness, Mable died September 14, 2015. Fidencio was visibly upset and was not even able to attend a service to honor his wife that night.
"They had been married for 67 years," David Aguilar, a family friend, told KOB. "His whole life just disappeared in front of him."
The day after Mable’s death, Fidencio told his son he loved him and announced he was going on a walk. Minutes later, a neighbor called law enforcement.
Fidencio Duran was banging on her door and bleeding. The neighbor was scared for him and for herself. Bernalillo County deputies arrived, and according to their own reports, they called in a crisis negotiator and a Spanish-speaking deputy to translate. Duran was reported to be holding a 4-inch knife, refusing to let it go and asking deputies to kill him.
BCSO’s reports indicate they tried for 90 minutes to get Duran to put the knife down. But he was partially blind, deaf and distraught over the recent loss of wife.
Deputies devised a plan to get Duran to comply with their orders. At 10 a.m., they deployed the plan. They fired pepper balls at Duran and released a muzzled K9 to knock him over.
Medical records show that fall caused Duran’s femur and hip to shatter. Since Duran’s skin was old and thin, some of the pepper balls penetrated, leaving fragments of plastic inside. A medical report shows it took doctors days to remove all of the plastic.
One month later, Duran died. The Office of the Medical Investigator ruled the death a homicide.
"When he was surrounded by deputies, he had committed no crime," civil rights attorney Shannon Kennedy said. "They are supposed to be serving, but instead they set in motion the kind of violence that sets a very painful death. The fact that the sheriff hasn’t come forward to apologize to this family is as equally shocking."
Kennedy filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales and the department on behalf of Duran’s family.
"How could the [deputies] not see that what they were doing was so wrong?" Kennedy asked. "How could all the deputies there not speak out against this injustice?"
In addition to monetary compensation for the Duran family, the lawsuit aims to force all Bernalillo County deputies to wear on-body cameras.