Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal
At least seven loud booms rang out through the Sandia foothills Sunday evening during a fatal confrontation between police and an illegal camper who was armed with a 3- to 4-inch knife in each hand, according to a video of the officer-involved shooting reviewed by the Journal.
It’s unclear how many officers fired the shots and whether officers were shooting live rounds, nonlethal projectiles, or both, at a long-haired, bearded transient who claimed to have “millions of dollars” on him.
Half a dozen officers appeared to be standing about 20 feet away from the man and shouting “Get on the ground!” when an initial burst of at least five rounds, and possibly six, was fired. The man stumbles, falling behind a boulder and is no longer visible.
Less than a minute passes before officers are seen standing about 10 feet from the boulder and another shot is fired. Officers then shout “Drop the knife!” and a final round is fired. The man is not visible in the video when the final two rounds were fired.
After the final shot, officers pause for a moment, then approach the man, whose identity has not yet been released.
Police had arrived hours earlier in response to a “suspicious” person possibly camping illegally in the Sandia foothills.
The Journal obtained an hour’s worth of video that shows excerpts before and after the shooting. It also viewed a two-minute portion that shows the actual shooting, but did not obtain a copy of that.
In the video obtained by the Journal, police can be heard trying to coax the man out without his knives.
Officers trained in crisis intervention techniques had been called in to deal with the man, police have said.
“We’re concerned about your safety,” an officer tells the man at one point.
“No, I’m never concerned about my safety,” he responds. “I’m concerned about yours.”
The man can be heard getting increasingly agitated and speaks about his connections to the Department of Defense, his ties to “trillions” of dollars and his frustration about having to deal with around a dozen armed officers while he was just trying to “sit down and watch a movie.”
Though the audio in the video is oftentimes spotty and voices obscured with static, negotiators and the suspect can be heard at several times talking about the suspect’s issues with Veterans Affairs, his past dealing with police and his unwillingness to trust what the officers are offering in exchange for his compliance.
Based on what the man can be heard saying, officers apparently offered the man a week’s stay in a hotel if he would drop his knives and descend the hill peacefully. He continually asked them to leave.
“This stuff’s gotta go,” he said of the officers and their weapons, “so I can get to my family and (expletive) open up a donut shop or a sandwich shop.”
The suspect continues shouting at the officers, and one holding a bullhorn repeatedly asks him what his issue or problem is.
The suspect can also be heard saying:
- “I have every right to carry my knives.”
- “We need to figure out resolvement, remedy, a solution tonight, because I’m not …walking out right now to make you look good.”
- “I’m in the service right now without a paycheck. … I’m not going to the VA (Veterans Affairs)”
- “I have billions of dollars on me, ties to trillions. If I had my own life, I could make a million and a half a year for myself. I could probably make a billion in ten years for me.”
- “I tried to check on an officer down on Louisiana and Central a couple months ago. They tried to shoot me there, man. I thought an officer was dead.”
- “I’m going to hunt you down and kill you. That’s my personal promise.”
As the sun sets, the man can be seen putting on a white sweatshirt. He refused to say where his family was or give his name, asking instead that negotiators address him instead as “sir” or “dude.”
In the two-minute video of the actual shooting, the man, wearing the white sweatshirt, is shouting at officers when the first series of shots ring out. Just before the shots ring out, a woman screams and officers continue shouting demands at the man. The woman cannot be seen on the video, and it is unclear if she was one of the officers.
Albuquerque police declined to comment on the video, saying that they will release more information today after APD Chief Gorden Eden is briefed by the multi-agency team reviewing the shooting officers’ actions. Police have identified officers Keith Sandyand Dominique Perez as the officers involved in the fatal confrontation, and who have been put on leave.
However, police have not yet said whether the man died from a gunshot wound or even if he was struck by a bullet.
The shooting is Eden’s first as APD chief. Counting Sunday’s incident, Albuquerque police have fatally shot 22 men since 2010.
The department is in the midst of a massive federal investigation into whether APD has a “pattern or practice” of violating Albuquerque residents’ Constitutional rights. That investigation has been ongoing for almost 18 months.