Sister of man fatally shot by Albuquerque Police: “They treated him like a terrorist”

By a WSWS reporter
26 June 2014

Tammy Redwine is the sister of Alfred “Lionel” Redwine, who was fatally shot by Albuquerque Police in front of his mother’s house March 25, nine days after the shooting of James Boyd, a homeless mentally ill man. She was with her mother at the June 21 march and rally in Albuquerque against police killings. She talked with the World Socialist Web Site in an interview about the incident.

Tammy and her two children

“On March 25th I went to my mother’s house because the police were there… My brother said he was afraid to come out of the house because the cops were going to shoot and kill him. He had my two boys with him; he was going to take them to school the next day.

“I went up there to find a bunch of police officers with rifles trained on the house and as I ran up, Lieutenant Sanchez stopped me and asked me what I was doing there. ‘That’s my little brother inside the house and my kids are in there and so what’s going on?’ he said, ‘We got a call on your brother,’ and I said, ‘Let me go to the house, and I’ll bring him out peacefully,’ and he said, ‘No, I can’t allow that.’

“I told him, ‘You can go with me up to the door. How about me and you go to the door and knock on the door so we can talk to him and find out what’s going on, rather than assume that he’s guilty?’ He said, ‘No. If you don’t want to do it my way then I’m just going to arrest you.’ I just walked away. They were going to arrest me because I wouldn’t do it his way.”

Tammy said she borrowed a cell phone and called Lionel. “He said, ‘I don’t want to go out there, I’m scared they’re going to shoot me, they’re going to kill me.’ I said, ‘I promise I’m not going to let them kill you. Just come out because I don’t want them to go and kick in the door with flash bangs and mace and all that stuff and then they end up opening fire and they kill all three of you guys.’

“He opened up the door, the boys came out… So all three of them walked out with their hands in the air and my brother had a cell phone in his hand; he was on the phone with me. They walked up to the sidewalk. They made him stop, the boys came to me, hugging me, and my oldest said, ‘Mom it’s okay, he just has a cell phone, it’s okay.’

“So I’m talking to my brother on the cell phone, I say, ‘Can you see me?’ He says, ‘Yeah, I can see you.’ I said I’m right here I’m not going anywhere. And I was less than maybe 50 feet away from him... The lieutenant walked over and tells me, ‘Tell your brother to throw his cell phone on the ground and keep his hands in the air.’

“The lieutenant took the phone out of my hand and closed it up while I’m still talking to my brother. I said, ‘Why did you do that? I was just telling my brother to get down on his knees so why’d you take it away from me?’ I’m still talking to him, but he turns on his heels and walks back to the officers and as soon as he gets to the officers I hear two shots from high-powered rifles.

“All I saw was my brother falling to the ground. And before they shot him he had his left hand off to the side, and his other hand holding up the cell phone and he said, ‘Why? Why?’ And he puts his other hand down to his side and he says, ‘Do it,’ and they did it. They shot him right in front of me and my 13-year-old son and my 10-year-old son.

“I screamed, running to him because I saw him falling, ‘No, no, why’d you shoot him? He had a cell phone in his hand, why’d you kill him?’ I’m running over to him but officers stopped me and I get to the wall. My son is trying to hang on to me, and I just see them grab my brother’s arm, roll him onto his stomach with his arm and drag him into the dirt and they handcuffed him, and leave him laying with his face in the dirt, bleeding to death.

“They shot him once in the chest, which went completely through, they shot him in the hip which came out above by his kidney and they blew off his right elbow.

“It took 25 minutes for an ambulance to get there, and they didn’t even call the ambulance. Bystanders called the ambulance. Dispatchers didn’t even know there were shots fired up there. So finally about 25 minutes later you hear the ambulance coming up, they wouldn’t let them through the roadblock. They made them go around on the other block, the other street. They take another 10 minutes to get to my brother before they finally get him on a stretcher and get him to the hospital.

“My brother bled out to death; they did nothing to help him. Two off-duty EMTs ran over to him and they had to push their way past the cops to help my brother. They took their shirts off their own bodies to put pressure on his wounds to keep him from bleeding out. My brother was still alive. If they had an ambulance on the scene like whenever they have a standoff, the ambulance would have gotten him in the 10-15 minutes they’re supposed to. My brother would have had a 50-50 chance of surviving.

“And there was no gun on scene at all! It didn’t show up until after they came out of my mom’s house. They went into the house immediately after they shot him and they came out with it. Everybody in the crowd—there were over a dozen witnesses—yelled at them, ‘He didn’t have a gun, he had a cell phone! Why did you shoot him?’ Everybody was upset and it was over a false call.

“The officers never went to the door and knocked, never asked him what’s going on, nothing. They took her [the neighbor, who had called the APD] word, descended on the house like he was a terrorist and treated him exactly like he was a terrorist. They never gave him a chance to surrender, nothing.”

The family filed a complaint with the police. “It is still under investigation and the lawsuit is still ongoing… He got some footage from the officers, which took almost two months to get. It took them a month to even release it…and when they did release it to the news so much of it was cut out.”