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NMSP: Passenger killed after pulling gun on officer during traffic stop

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

A suspect was killed and a New Mexico State Police officer was shot in the leg during a shootout in Albuquerque early Sunday morning, according to State Police.

New Mexico State Police Deputy Chief Robert Eshom said the officer, who has not been identified, stopped a blue Honda sedan for speeding on southbound Interstate 25 near Avenida Cesar Chavez around 2 a.m. and got into an altercation with a passenger in the vehicle.

“It is a stark reminder of the dangers officers face when they put on their uniforms – never knowing what each traffic stop will bring,” Eshom said during a press conference broadcast over Periscope. “This is definitely an eye-opener for all of us, and it’s something none of us want to face in our careers, but we know the danger is there. Our officers diligently go out and perform their duties relentlessly and without hesitation.”

During the course of the traffic stop, the officer saw that the license plate on the vehicle was not consistent with paperwork in the vehicle, NMSP Lt. Elizabeth Armijo said in a statement.

The officer asked the driver to exit the vehicle and spoke to the driver near the officer’s patrol car. The officer then returned to the vehicle and began speaking to the passenger in the vehicle. The passenger lunged at the officer and a struggle ensued.

The passenger fired at the officer, hitting him in his left leg. The officer then shot the suspect, Eshom said. The suspect died on scene.

The officer was able to retreat to his vehicle, where he applied a tourniquet to his injured leg before detaining the driver. The driver’s identity will not be released as he is currently not facing charges, Armijo said.

After applying the tourniquet, the officer went back to the passenger to render aid until assistance arrived.

Eshom said the officer involved in the shooting was transferred to University of New Mexico Hospital in stable condition and later released.

The identity of the passenger has not been released, pending notification of next of kin.

Officers later located a .25 caliber handgun in the Honda.

The officer involved has been placed on standard administrative leave in accordance with agency policy.

Southbound I-25 was closed for several hours as police investigated the shooting. Officers were directing traffic through the frontage road around the scene.

The Albuquerque Metro Police Shooting Taskforce, comprised of the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau, Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department and Rio Rancho Police Department, is investigating the incident.

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