A man is dead after he shot a state police officer who had just handcuffed him — striking the officer in the badge, according to authorities.
The officer was taken to a local hospital and released soon after, according to New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas. The officer, whose name has not been released, suffered bruising and facial injuries from badge shrapnel and will be placed on administrative leave, which is standard practice.
William Wilson, 26, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The state police officer along with a San Juan County sheriff’s deputy opened fire after Wilson fired a shot, Kassetas said in a news conference broadcast online.
Wilson was a passenger in a truck stopped at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday by a San Juan County Sheriff’s Office deputy. Officers were looking for the truck because they believed it had been involved in recent larcenies and burglaries.
The state police officer arrived soon after as backup. The officer had “a discussion” with Wilson, Kassetas said, before cuffing Wilson’s hands in front of his body.
“Ultimately very shortly after that took place, that suspect produced a weapon, a revolver we believe, and fired it at my state police officer attempting to kill him,” he said. “That round went into his badge and vest.”
Kassetas, speaking at a 3:30 p.m. news conference in Aztec, said it’s not clear how many rounds the officer and deputy fired. Asked whether the suspect was patted down for weapons, he said the situation unfolded in a matter of moments.
“In a perfect world, yeah, people should be patted down and checked for weapons, but things happen very quickly,” he said. “My officers and the deputies have seconds to make a decision.”
San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen took the news conference as an opportunity to criticize the Supreme Court’s bail reform effort and new rules that aim to keep poor people from lingering in jail on bond they can’t afford while allowing judges the option of keeping the most threatening defendants in jail awaiting trial without bond.
He said the rules put people like Wilson back on the streets too quickly. He said Wilson had a lengthy criminal record and Kassetas pointed out that Wilson was wearing a GPS monitor at the time of the shooting.
Online court records show Wilson was released Aug. 2 from the San Juan County jail, after he was charged with burglarizing his uncle’s home in July 2017. According to court documents, he stole a dozen firearms and about $500 in change during the burglary.
Wilson was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond and one of the conditions of his release was GPS monitoring.
Prior to that arrest, William had been convicted of nine felonies, including arson, battery on a police officer, residential burglary and drug possession.
“Our judges, our lawmakers, and all law enforcement and every citizen of the state needs to stand up and stop this nonsense of catch and release,” Christiansen said.