Albuquerque police have refused to provide any new details about a fatal encounter with a man in the Sandia foothills on Sunday, including whether they shot him.
APD spokeswoman Tasia Martinez said the department will not release any information about the incident – in which at least one APD officer fired at least one shot – until they have completed all officer and witness interviews.
That appears to diverge at least partially from past APD practice on releasing information on shootings by police. Then-APD Chief Ray Schultz regularly released the names of the officers involved in shootings the day after the fact. He did so, for example, in the last three shootings in his tenure as chief.
The city’s Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry said Tuesday that he’s spoken with APD Chief Gorden Eden about “standardizing the protocol” for release of basic information following officer-involved shootings, but that with this case, in particular, it’s not unreasonable for the department to take two or three days to release information.
Perry said that the multitude of interviews with neighbors and officers, plus the complexity of the case, could be factors in the delay.
He said that it’s “reasonable” to expect some consistency in the release of basic information from APD, but that there is no formal policy that dictates a time frame for releasing information to the public.
Eden said they plan to identify the APD officer or officers involved in the shooting today. This is APD’s first officer-involved shooting since Eden became chief last month.
Police have said they intend to have a news conference about the shooting sometime this week but haven’t released any more details in the meantime.
As of Tuesday, police had not released the following information despite repeated inquiries:
• The name of the man who died. Martinez said police are trying to notify the relatives of the man shot before they release his name to the public.
• The name or names of the officer or officers who fired at him.
• Whether the man suffered a gunshot wound.
• Whether the man died of a gunshot wound.
• What specific action by the man, real or perceived, prompted police to use lethal force.
Eden said on the night of the shooting that officers had first tried to use nonlethal force to defuse the situation. He did not say what type of nonlethal force, but a witness told the Journal on Monday that he saw what he believed was a flash grenade go off before shots were fired.
Eden said Sunday night that Open Space officers were dispatched to a “suspicious person” in the foothills near the Copper trail head around 4 p.m. Sunday. The man, whom Eden described as a “suspect,” was armed with knives and “threatened the officers’ lives,” he said.