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APD: Man dies after police use Taser while trying to arrest him

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A man is dead after an officer used a Taser on him during an arrest in a bucolic northwest Albuquerque neighborhood Friday afternoon, according to police.

Celina Espinoza, an Albuquerque Police Department spokeswoman, said the 45-year-old robbery suspect suffered from a medical episode when an officer used “less lethal means” while trying to arrest him.

He died at the scene.

Officer Fred Duran confirmed that the officer had used a Taser on the man.

The incident began around noon when an officer responding to a call at Cottonwood Mall, on Coors NW, was called to another robbery at nearby department store.

“The caller stated a man was actively committing a felony by breaking into cash registers and stealing money from the nearby Sears store,” Espinoza said. “The officer located the man suspected of breaking into the cash registers and attempted to make contact with him.”

The suspected robber, who was armed with a screwdriver, fled and the officer chased him for more than a mile to Bosque Circle near Alameda NW, Espinoza said.

She said a passerby who spotted the pursuit tried to help the officer take the suspect into custody.

“The suspect verbally threatened the passerby and the officer as the officer attempted to arrest the suspect,” Espinoza said. “The officer gave commands to the suspect and utilized less lethal means in an attempt to apprehend him.”

That’s when the suspect had “some sort of apparent medical episode,” Espinoza said.

The officer gave the suspect CPR but the suspect was pronounced dead on the scene.

Duran said they are still investigating whether the Taser caused the man’s death and whether he was under the influence of any substances when he died.

“The Office of the Medical Investigator is investigating to determine the exact cause of death,” Espinoza said.

Duran said the officer was not hurt and is still being interviewed by detectives. He did not release the identity of the officer.

He said there are no suspects outstanding.

Espinoza said the suspect’s identity will be released after his identify has been confirmed by OMI and his next of kin has been notified.

The multi-jurisdictional task force has taken over the investigation. Officers blocked off much of the street into Friday evening and could be seen interviewing people who live in the area.

This is the fourth fatality to occur during an arrest involving APD officers this year. In January officers shot and killed an armed robber and in May an officer shot and killed a suspected murderer during a SWAT call in Cibola County. In late April another man suffered from a “medical episode” during an arrest and died.

Ed Decatur, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, said the neighborhood of ranches and small farms is normally very peaceful.

“Usually it’s really quiet,” Decatur said. “There’s not much traffic except for local people.”