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A Fatal Controversy: Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Denver City Officer

The family of Amy Reyna filed a lawsuit Thursday against Denver City police and other officials claiming excessive force and wrongful death.
by Victoria Price
vprice@kamc.tv

HOBBS, NM -- The family of Amy Reyna filed a lawsuit Thursday against Denver City police and other officials claiming excessive force and wrongful death.

In October 2013 a Denver City police officer shot and killed Reyna, 35. She was formerly from Lubbock but lived more recently in Denver City.

Reyna led police on a high-speed chase through Yoakum County and then crossed over into Lea County, New Mexico. Eventually her vehicle came to stop in a farm field where officers including Cpl. Ryan Taylor with the Denver City Police Department ordered her to put her hands up.

Dashcam video depicts Taylor firing three shots into the engine of the vehicle. Reyna’s car moved, and Taylor fired three shots into the passenger compartment. After a brief pause he fired one more.

During the investigation a New Mexico State Police officer asked Taylor, “You said she had been moving her hands, pointing her hands in a certain way. Can you describe that just a little bit better for me?”

Taylor answered by saying, “Like she was holding a gun.”

Taylor also said, “She reached down, and as she’s coming up, that’s when I fired.”

The chase had been more than 100 miles per hour at times, and Reyna was wanted for felony arrest warrants in both Texas and New Mexico. An autopsy showed she had taken methamphetamines.

The attorney for Reyna’s family, Joe Zebas, says officer Taylor had no need to kill her.

“I think the video speaks for itself,” Zebas said.

“There was no indication she had a weapon. And in fact, there was no weapon,” Zebas said.

Zebas said the case has not yet been brought before a grand jury yet, but he feels like officer Taylor should face criminal liability as well as his pending lawsuit.

Thursday night, Tray Payne, attorney for Officer Taylor, put out the following statement:

"We are waiting to see what the courts will ,and we are confident the truth be fully revealed. It's easy to sit by and play armchair quarterback when you are watching a video but much more difficult when you are the actual officer in harm's way. Ryan protected himself and the other officers in the situation, and was not responsible for the events that occured; Amy Reyna was. It is clear that this is a tragic event and many things don't make sense as to why Amy would take this path. Then again, nothing really makes sense when you are using meth"

Click on the video links to see the dashcam video of the end of the case from two different angles.

Mobile users on the Everything Lubbock App can follow THIS LINK to get to the video.