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DA: Shooting near Las Vegas justified

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SANTA FE – The shooting of a 72-year-old man by State Police after they tried to stop his van traveling the wrong way on Interstate 25 south of Las Vegas, N.M., in January was justified, 4th Judicial District Attorney Richard Flores said Thursday in a news release.

Flores also said that the wounded driver, Albert Urban of Hamburg, N.Y., a Buffalo suburb, has been found incompetent to stand trial to face charges including aggravated assault on a police officer.

Officers got permission to use a bumping maneuver to push Urban’s van off the highway but he continued driving and hit a police car about 1 a.m. on Jan. 4. Officer Jonathan Wright fired multiple times, hitting Urban in the arm.

Police video shows that Urban, traveling north in lanes for southbound traffic, drove past about 30 vehicles, including a passenger bus and a tractor-trailer rig, that were heading in the opposite direction and had to swerve to avoid head-on collisions, Flores’ news release said.

“After reviewing all the investigation materials, especially the video, it is the opinion of this office that officer Wright conducted himself in a justified manner. His actions, as well as the actions of the other New Mexico Police Officers, that night, saved the lives of many,” Flores said.

Once officers got Urban out of his vehicle, “it was quickly apparent that Mr. Urban was exhibiting signs of confusion and disorientation.” Urban believed he was in Buffalo.

He was later admitted to the Forensic Division of the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas for a competency evaluation. That showed Urban “was suffering from a cognitive disorder which may have been caused by Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia.”

Urban will now get residential treatment in a facility under the supervision of his family in New York.

“We were obviously concerned about Mr. Urban’s safety and welfare and also determined to assure that his family firmly understood that his driving days were over,” Flores said.

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