Trial begins in gross negligence case against LCPD

Family of man who pulled sword on police sues department


A Las Cruces family is fighting for justice after police shot and killed its son in 2010.

A federal judge heard the first day of testimony in the Hummell family's civil suit against the city on Monday.

The family of Lance Hummell is suing the city alleging gross negligence by Las Cruces police.

In July 2010, police said they responded to calls of a disturbance and found Hummell wielding a samurai sword.

Police said Hummell lunged at them with the sword despite repeated requests for him to drop the weapon. Officers shot Hummell multiple times, killing him.

In court on Monday, Hector Gonzalez testified as a witness of the shooting.

Gonzalez said he was in the area for a dentist appointment that was canceled. As he stopped at a stop sign, Gonzalez said he noticed the police activity.

Gonzalez said he heard police yell, "Don't move." He said he saw Hummell with the sword in his hands. Then seconds later, Gonzalez heard gunshots.

Gonzalez testified that Hummell did not have enough time to drop his weapon before police shot him.

Then Norman Rhoades, a New Mexico State Police crime scene investigator, took the stand.

Rhoades, an expert on diagramming and processing crime scenes, testified that the closet bullet casing to Hummell's body was 29 feet away.

An attorney for the city got Rhoades to admit the location of the shell casings may not be accurate to show where officers were standing. Rhoades said his diagram does not show where officers were or when they shot Hummell.

The trial is expected to continue on Tuesday.

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