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Father: Man killed by police Sunday broke into empty apartment seeking shelter

Daniel Arreola-Saavedra, 24 (Courtesy of Jesse Arreola)

The father of the man whom police shot and killed Sunday said his son, Daniel Arreola-Saavedra, 24, broke into an empty apartment complex on Central east of Wyoming to find a place to sleep.

“My son broke into that unit, that’s his girlfriend’s old unit, because it was cold,” Jesse Arreola said in a phone interview. “It was an empty unit.”

It’s the first shooting police officers have been involved in since interim Chief Michael Geier took over. Geier was chosen to lead the department by the new mayoral administration in early December.

Officer Simon Drobik, an APD spokesman, gave a brief account of the shooting Sunday morning in which he said that officers had been called to the apartment complex on East Central after reports of a residential burglary just after midnight. He said the officers were “confronted with an individual with a weapon” and at least one officer opened fire, killing the man. He did not reveal the type of weapon.

Police have not released any information since then, but Thursday evening, Gilbert Gallegos, another police department spokesman, said to expect a full news conference and the release of video early next week. He did not respond to requests for comment later in the day when told about Arreola’s account.

“Chief Geier’s top priority is to protect the integrity of the investigation, while ensuring these briefings and the release of information are accurate, transparent, consistent and fair to the officers who are involved,” Gallegos said.

In this case, he said, police had to interview four officers and a sergeant who were involved in some capacity. He did not say if they all opened fire.

He said getting lawyers to represent those officers and schedule interviews was the reason there has been no update other than the short briefing an officer gave at the scene of the shooting Sunday morning.

But Arreola said he wishes he had more information about what happened when his son was killed. He said he has not spoken with police but officers have talked with Arreola-Saavedra’s mother.

Arreola said Arreola-Saavedra had had many problems with the law in the past and struggled with drug use, but he is angry and saddened by the way his son was killed. They last saw each other for Christmas.

“He was my son and I loved him dearly and we were trying to rebuild our relationship,” Arreola said. “I never got the chance.”

Albuquerque police shootings in recent years have reshaped the culture within the department.

The department is in the midst of a yearslong reform effort that aims to address, in part, a high rate of shootings.

Days after taking office, Mayor Tim Keller apologized for previous police shootings, and Geier pledged that he would hold his officers accountable.

Keller said during the campaign that in his administration police would release videos of shootings “as soon as feasibly possible without interfering with an ongoing investigation.”