Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Police say the special investigations unit was conducting a “surveillance operation” when a detective shot and killed a man in an exchange of gunfire near East Central on Tuesday night.
Police have not released the name or age of the man – except to say he is an adult – or said what crime he was suspected of committing.
The detective suffered minor injuries but did not have to be hospitalized.
Officer Simon Drobik, a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department, said in an email Wednesday morning that detectives began the surveillance operation in the Northeast Heights and that it took them to the Southeast Area Command. He didn’t say why they were conducting the operation or which unit the detectives are part of.
Near Central and General Stilwell, Drobik said, a man armed with a gun approached the detective’s vehicle.
“An interaction occurred between the subject and the detective resulting in shots being exchanged between the two,” Drobik wrote. “The subject did not survive his injuries and the officer sustained minor injuries.”
He said witnesses were interviewed and released.
“The officer involved in this incident has been placed on standard administrative leave and still needs to be interviewed,” Drobik said.
He did not identify the officer.
“This is an open investigation and more information will be released when appropriate,” Drobik wrote.
Late Tuesday in a statement to the media, APD Deputy Chief Harold Medina said there were three scenes for investigators to process.
He said he didn’t have any more information about what occurred at those locations, and police were still trying to determine what happened.
For much of the early morning, General Stilwell was closed between Chico and Central, and Central was closed between General Arnold and General Hodges. Part of Central remained closed later into the morning.
Neither Medina nor Drobik said how many times the detective fired, but neighbors said they heard what sounded like automatic or semiautomatic gunfire.
More than 20 evidence markers were scattered in the road on General Stilwell, fanning out from a dark blue sedan.
Two more evidence markers could be seen next to a white sedan in the parking lot of a Cricket Wireless store around the corner.
A city spokeswoman did not answer follow-up questions Wednesday about whether the officer who fired was wearing a lapel camera and whether it was recording, or whether anyone else was with the man who was shot.
Wednesday morning, officials with the Office of the Medical Investigator and APD’s crime lab were taking measurements and examining evidence.
The department is in the midst of a yearslong reform effort mandated by the Department of Justice after an investigation found that officers had a pattern of excessive use of force.
The court-approved settlement agreement specifically mentions the Special Investigation Division and states that APD should establish protocols to “include communicating high-risk situations and threats promptly, coordinating effectively with specialized tactical units, and providing support that increases the likelihood of safely resolving a critical incident.”
For the past two reporting periods, the independent monitor found the divisions to be in full compliance with the agreement.
This is the third shooting by Albuquerque police this year and the first that was fatal.
On April 5, one officer shot and injured Pedro Escalante, 26, after, police say, he stole a woman’s car and fled from officers into a Southeast Albuquerque neighborhood.
Less than two weeks later, three officers shot and injured Dominic Detwiler, 20, after, they say, he fired at them in an apartment complex parking lot. He is paralyzed from the waist down.