ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Police say Dominic Detwiler said, “You all are going to have to shoot me,” seconds before he opened fire on three officers outside an apartment complex last month.
Then, police say, he took off running across the parking lot and officers Andrew Hinkle, Vince Salas, and Pete Tartaglia shot at him several times, striking him twice in the lower back.
Detwiler, 20, remains paralyzed from the waist down, Albuquerque Police Department Lt. Scott Norris said in a briefing on the incident Friday. Detwiler faces charges of robbery and aggravated assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon but has not yet been booked into jail.
Norris said it all started a little before 9 p.m. on April 18, when officers were called to an apartment complex on the 500 block of Virginia NE, near Copper and Wyoming, for reports of a home invasion.
“The caller indicated a male individual forced entry into his apartment, armed with a handgun,” Norris said. “He also stated he was blindfolded, and had to get off the phone because the offender was still present.”
When the officers arrived they found Detwiler, who matched the description of the suspect, sitting on the staircase leading up to the second story of the apartment complex.
Norris said Detwiler told officers they would have to shoot him and then pulled out a gun and fired four times, striking a window a couple of feet from them. The officers’ lapel camera video shows the shots and then all three taking cover and shooting at Detwiler as he ran across the parking lot.
Norris said Detwiler was not pointing the gun at the officers when he was shot, however a gun was found next to him.
“He’s a fleeing violent felon and he already showed a propensity for violence,” Norris said, in response to questions about whether the shooting is considered justified. “He’s running toward an occupied dwelling at about 9 at night. He posed a clear and immediate present danger to not only officers but the citizens in that neighborhood.”
Detwiler is still at the hospital. Norris said the gun had not been reported stolen, has been traced to someone else, and officers are trying to figure out how it got to Detwiler.
As for the home invasion that started the whole incident, Norris said officers are still investigating.
“We’re still trying to figure out with regard to why were we called to begin with,” he said.
Officers Hinkle, Salas and Tartaglia have all been with the department since August 2015 and have not been involved in any prior shootings.
The Multi-Agency Task Force investigation and the Internal Affairs investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
Detwiler had previously faced charges for trafficking a controlled substance in three separate cases that involved allegations that he sold drugs to undercover New Mexico State Police agents in November 2017. In a fourth case, that same month Rio Rancho police pulled him over for speeding and found a loaded gun, methamphetamine and heroin, according to a criminal complaint filed in Sandoval County Magistrate Court.
The first three cases were dismissed because the state didn’t turn over evidence by deadline and Detwiler pleaded guilty to unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon and trafficking a controlled substance in the fourth, according to online court records. He was on probation at the time of the shooting.
This is the second time Albuquerque police have shot and injured a suspect this year. The first occurred on April 5, when an officer shot Pedro Escalante, 26, during a foot chase near Grove and Bell SE after Escalante reportedly flashed a gun at them.