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APD releases more details about shooting by officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When a seven-year veteran of the Albuquerque Police Department shot and injured Pedro Escalante three weeks ago, it was not the first time that day the suspect had been fired upon.

Less than 30 minutes earlier, police say, a woman who saw Escalante in her stolen car had also shot at him.

Officer James Sullivan (Source: APD)

Officer James Sullivan (Source: APD)

She didn’t hit him, but she could face charges, including child abuse, because, police say, a 2-year-old was with her when she chased after Escalante.

APD Lt. Scott Norris held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to provide updates about the April 5 police shooting and the circumstances that led to it.

Norris said officer James Sullivan told investigators Escalante – cornered against a wrought-iron fence – had pointed a handgun at him, so he fired four times, striking him in the hip once. A gun was found on the scene, and it was loaded with 27 rounds.

Sullivan was put on standard administrative leave immediately after the shooting but has since returned to work as a field officer in the Southeast Area Command. He had not been involved in any previous shootings.

Norris played lapel camera video from officer Sullivan and from another officer, who was behind him.

Neither video captured the shooting or a gun being pointed at officers. The videos provided by APD end immediately after the shooting. Additional video will be available later, according to APD.

Escalante, 26, was taken to a hospital and then booked into the county jail. He is being held until his trial.

His defense attorney did not respond to phone calls from the Journal.

Two weeks after the April 5 shooting, police shot another suspect, a man they said committed a home invasion robbery.

No details have been released about that shooting, including the suspect’s name of how many or which officers shot him.

The Multi-Agency Task Force is still investigating both shootings, and Norris said he doesn’t know when detectives will be able to turn over Escalante’s case to the District Attorney’s Office.

“This occurred less than a month ago, and it is very difficult to conclude an investigation of this complexity,” he said. “And now we have another one.”

The incident began around 5:30 p.m. on April 5 when Amber Trujillo saw her red Hyundai Sonata, which had been stolen three days earlier. She called 911 but continued to follow the stolen car as a passenger in a white Hyundai Elantra.

Around 6 p.m., Norris said, Trujillo began firing at Escalante, shooting her own car three times.

“Officers conducted a high-risk traffic stop on the white Elantra at Louisiana and Trumbull SE and detained Trujillo, as well as the driver of the vehicle, Mary Trujillo,” Norris said. “A child was also located in the vehicle and taken into protective custody.”

Norris said the investigation involving Amber Trujillo is ongoing, and she could face charges of child abuse, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and shooting at or from a motor vehicle.

Escalante, however, did not stop there and continued to weave through Southeast Albuquerque neighborhoods.

Pedro Escalante, 26 (Source: APD)

Pedro Escalante, 26 (Source: APD)

Officers set up a spike belt at Grove and Bell SE, and Escalante blew threw it heading north, crashing into a silver Toyota Camry that was heading west, Norris said. The driver of the Camry suffered a minor shoulder injury.

Norris said Escalante got out of the stolen Sonata and ran north, as officer Sullivan chased him.

He said Escalante “attempted to jump a fence while pointing a firearm” at Sullivan, so Sullivan shot him.

One civilian who witnessed the shooting told officers he had seen Escalante point the gun, Norris said. Escalante was treated at a hospital and booked into jail the next day. He is charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer, and receiving or transferring a stolen motor vehicle.

Norris said that the gun that was found next to Escalante has been tied to a shooting at a mobile home park six days earlier, and that police are investigating whether he was involved in that shooting as well. The gun had not been reported stolen.

Escalante has a lengthy criminal history, including charges of aggravated assault on a peace officer, and receiving or transferring a stolen motor vehicle, according to online court records.

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A handgun police say Pedro Escalante was armed with when he was shot and injured by an Albuquerque Police Department officer on April 5. (Courtesy APD)

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