A camper who was shot at after a nearly five-hour confrontation with police Sunday died Monday morning, according to a release from the Albuquerque Police Department. The man, who was camping in the foothills near the Copper trailhead, was armed with knives and threatened responding officers, according to police.
The man’s identity was not being released, nor was it known what he died of.
Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden said Sunday night that Open Space officers were dispatched to a “suspicious person” in the foothills near the Copper trailhead around 4 p.m. Sunday. The man, whom Eden described as a “suspect,” then “threatened the officers’ lives,” Eden said, which is when the officers stepped back and requested a Crisis Intervention Team and a supervisor.
“He did have weapons, we know factually that he kept producing knives and threatened the officers with knives,” Eden said late Sunday outside crime tape in a foothills neighborhood.
“They tried to engage the suspect and speak to him but he became more and more irritated, so the officers decided that they would step back,” Eden said.
“The suspect did request, and we don’t know why, that State Police be called, that he was a liaison person or had a liaison relationship with State Police,” Eden said, but when officers arrived Eden said he was just as hostile with them.
That’s when officers decided to deploy less-than-lethal force, which is when a single shot was fired, Eden said. Eden did not say what type of force was deployed or where the man was struck.
Neighbors said they heard an explosion around the time of the shooting, but weren’t sure what it was, and said the neighborhood was usually very quiet.
Eden didn’t identify the suspect or the officer involved in the shooting.
“We have officers that have not been interviewed, so we’re trying to provide you with factual information as quick as we can,” Eden said. “We’ll be here all night until very late in the morning.”
The Department of Justice is wrapping up an investigation into the department, in part over questions about its use of force.
It’s the first officer-involved shooting under Eden, the new police chief.