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Autopsies: Men shot by APD were impaired

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The two men shot and killed by Albuquerque police in May – Armand Martin and Ralph Chavez – were impaired at the time of the shootings, according to toxicology reports.

The state Office of the Medical Investigator on Tuesday released Chavez’s and Martin’s death investigations and toxicology reports.

Chavez, 37, was shot three times by two police officers near Second Street and the Interstate 40 frontage road on May 22. He had just beaten a woman and slashed a man’s throat with a knife. Police said he was shot as he aggressively moved toward the officers with a knife and was yelling for police to shoot him.

Chavez had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.28 percent, the autopsy report states. That is more than three times the presumed level of intoxication for a driver.

Martin, 50, was shot outside his home in Ventana Ranch West on May 3. He had barricaded himself in the home after a domestic dispute, and police said he was shot by a single bullet after he ran from his home shooting handguns.

Martin had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent and also had benzodiazepines in his system. Benzodiazepines are a class of drug that can be prescribed to treat anxiety or insomnia and alcohol greatly enhances their effects, according to the autopsy report.

Albuquerque police have said the officers learned during the standoff that Martin, an Air Force veteran, had been treated for mental illness.

Officer Danny Hughes shot Martin. The bullet entered the right lower chest and exited the lower left back, according to the autopsy report. There were extensive injuries to the liver, right adrenal gland, kidneys, aorta, lumbar spine and spinal cord.

Officers Ryan Graves and Brian Fuchs shot Chavez. Bullets struck Chavez in the left chest, left armpit and right leg. The shot to his chest damaged the heart, right lung and liver, the autopsy report states.

Graves, Fuchs and Hughes have all returned to active duty, though internal police investigations are ongoing, APD spokeswoman Janet Blair said.

After the internal investigation, the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office reviews officer-involved shootings in the district to determine if charges will be filed against the officers.

Albuquerque police have shot and killed five people since March 16, and none of the evidence from the cases has been turned over to the DA’s office for a review yet, said Kayla Anderson, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney.

The last case the DA’s Office reviewed was Christopher Torres, who was shot in April 2011 and the office determined in February 2014 that no criminal charges would be filed, Anderson said. The office had previously reviewed and made the same determination for several officer-involved shootings that happened in 2012.

In a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of Torres’ estate, state District Judge Shannon Bacon found that APD detectives Richard Hilger and Christopher Brown committed batteries on Torres; Hilger by beating him and Brown by shooting the unarmed Torres three times in the back at point-blank range.

Bacon also found that the officers’ testimony was not credible, and ultimately awarded Torres’ family more than $6 million, although the payout is capped at $400,000 under tort claims law.

Torres family attorney Randi McGinn has said it’s hoped the judge’s findings are sufficient for the U.S. Department of Justice to take a look at the case for criminal prosecution.

The FBI is looking into the APD fatal shooting of homeless camper James Boyd for potential criminal prosecution.

Albuquerque police have shot at 40 people since 2010, killing 26. In April, the DOJ announced they determined the department has a pattern of violating people’s constitutional rights through excessive force. The city and DOJ will negotiate court-enforceable reforms to address to DOJ’s findings.

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