ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Northeast-area traffic stop early Friday morning turned into an officer-involved shooting that left an armed suspect in critical condition and marked the Albuquerque Police Department’s sixth such shooting this year.
Police have released little information about the shooting apart from an initial report from APD Chief Allen Banks in the early morning hours Friday.
Police have not identified the officer or the suspect involved, nor have they said what prompted the traffic stop, what type of gun the suspect had, whether the suspect pointed his gun or shot at the officer, how many times the officer fired and whether any witnesses saw the shooting.
Albuquerque police spokeswoman Tasia Martinez said the investigation has just begun, and the officer and suspect have not been interviewed.
“The investigation is in the early stages and we will provide an update to the media at a later date,” Martinez said in an email. “Interviews are still pending, so details cannot be released until the investigative team has completed all of those interviews and reviewed evidence, including any video or audio.”
The shooting happened shortly after 2:40 a.m. Friday along Montgomery Boulevard, about a mile east of Interstate 25. An APD officer radioed in to dispatch that the suspect got out of his car and confronted the officer with a gun before the officer shot, Banks said.
Police also found a gun at the scene, the chief said. The officer was not injured.
Banks also said the officer was alone and assigned to a DWI team.
“Any officer-involved shooting is troublesome,” Banks told The Associated Press. “No officer goes to work wanting to get involved in an officer-involved shooting. What we want to do is find out what caused a subject to pull a firearm on a police officer.”
A multijurisdictional team, including city and State Police, Bernalillo County investigators and members of the city’s Independent Review Office, are investigating the shooting.
Federal investigators also came to the shooting scene, Banks said. The department is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for an escalation of police shootings and several high-profile cases of abuse.
APD officers have shot at 32 men since 2010, striking 28 and killing 19. Included in that number is the Oct. 26 shooting involving Christopher Chase, who shot four law enforcement officers during a sprawling police chase. Police have not said if officers struck or killed Chase during the shootout in Albuquerque’s North Valley nearly three weeks ago.
In Friday’s case, Banks said he wanted to know why someone would confront an officer and trigger a shooting.
“One of the things I look at is what is causing confrontations with our officers,” Banks told the Associated Press. “And I notice a trend around the country – it’s just not just Albuquerque. And we do a very thorough investigation into each and every one of our officer-involved shootings. It goes through a rigorous process to make sure that we’re handling law enforcement correctly.”