ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque police officer Johnathan McDonnell was driving nearly 80 mph en route to a possible assault just before he slammed into a family’s car, killing a 6-year-old boy, according to a Bernalillo County investigation.
Albuquerque Police said that around 6 p.m. April 17, McDonnell was responding to reports that a “male subject” with a machete was threatening someone at a Northeast Heights grocery store. He was speeding north on Eubank with his siren and lights on when his car collided with Antoinette Suina’s as she turned left onto Indian School from southbound Eubank. Both drivers had green lights at the time of the wreck.
“It is my opinion that Officer McDonnell was operating his vehicle at a speed to (sic.) fast for conditions at the time, however, Officer McDonnell was authorized to operate his vehicle in an emergency response,” a deputy wrote in the crash investigation. “I feel his intentions were to proceed to the call in an expedited manner as to preserve the safety of human life.”
McDonnell, whose emergency lights and sirens were on, was able to brake, but at impact, his police cruiser was traveling approximately 67 mph, according to crash data. The collision sent Suina’s car spinning into a light pole.
Joel Anthony Suina, 6, died in a local hospital after being placed on life support. His sister, age 9, suffered a pelvis fracture and injuries to her head, lung, liver and kidney. The report refers to the 6-year-old boy as Joel Anthony Mumaw.
Antoinette Suina told police that she’d just picked her kids up from school and the group was headed to Hobby Lobby. She didn’t see any cars coming when she started to make the turn, she said, and she never heard sirens or noticed police lights, according to the report.
The first time she saw the police unit, she said, was as it hit her car “where her children were sitting.”
McDonnell suffered extensive leg injuries and a bruised lung, according to the investigation.
In his nine-year career with APD, he had been disciplined in at least six driving incidents, including five preventable crashes and an unauthorized pursuit.
In this case, he refused to provide a statement to investigators. Online records show McDonnell is still employed by APD.
The investigator wrote that he did not believe either driver should be criminally charged. The investigation was forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for review.
Police eventually arrested 15-year-old Keisean Anderson in connection to the assault McDonnell had been dispatched to that day. According to police, Anderson had pulled out a machete when confronted by Albertson’s employees and later punched a store worker in the face.